JUST 12 months ago, first-time mum Fiona Brown was holding a vigil at the bedside of a daughter fighting for her life.
Niamh Byrne was delivered by emergency Caesarean at Sheffield’s Jessop Wing last November, after her mum developed severe pre-eclampsia.
The Crosspool tot had stopped growing at 24 weeks due to the complications and weighed just 1lb 11oz when she was born.
For the first three months of her life, parents Fiona, aged 31, and 33-year-old John Byrne, looked on as their daughter battled for survival in an incubator and had to undergo blood transfusions, treatment to keep her airways open and was given oxygen.
Medics feared Niamh might not make it when she suffered a cerebral bleed, fluid on her brain and dilated ventricles – but now she is preparing for her first birthday.
Former recruitment worker Fiona, now a full-time carer for her daughter, said: “Niamh still has a long way to go. She is not doing the things other babies her age are doing and she is still in a lot of pain, but it is amazing how much she has come on.
“She still has problems with her stomach and digestion. When she was in hospital, I had to feed her through the incubator. We didn’t know if she would ever come out of hospital or not.”
Niamh, who turns one next Saturday, had open valves in her heart, which recent scans showed have minimised – and a month ago she sat up alone for the first time.
Now her family have double reason to celebrate – Niamh has been shortlisted for national charity Tommy’s Champion Children award.
The awards recognise babies born prematurely and how they have triumphed against the odds. Winners will be announced in March.
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s chief executive, said: “We know how heartbreaking it is when a parent suffers a pregnancy problem, loses a much-longed-for baby, or when a newborn arrives too soon.”