'Miracle Mel has beaten all the odds'

Melanie Barron is living proof that miracles can happen.

When Melanie was born doctors told her mum Elizabeth she would probably die within hours.

Born with Down's Syndrome and a severe heart defect, little Melanie's chances of survival were slim at best.

But battling Melanie defied the doctors and went from strength to strength.

Now 35 years old and a member of St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Handsworth, Melanie was asked to attend a special confirmation ceremony.

It was a moment that made her mum so proud.

Elizabeth, 73, a retired nurse from Handsworth Road, Handsworth, said: "Melanie was baptised in hospital. The doctors told me to go away and have more children, to forget about her.

"But I was never going to do that and neither was Melanie."

Melanie was tube-fed for the first 14 months. Elizabeth said: "At seven she was still very ill and I was told she probably had a year to live.

"The church paid for her to go to Lourdes.

I couldn't go because by then Melanie had a baby brother, Jason, and I had to stay at home to look after him.Lourdes was our last hope and I didn't know whether Melanie would come home at all.

"But when she did she was so much stronger, so much better. It was a miracle."

Melanie has been blessed regularly at St Joseph's and when Elizabeth was asked by the priest if she would like Melanie to be confirmed she says it was the proudest moment of her life.

"I was bursting and so was Melanie," she said.

"We get so much support and help from the church. The priest says she is a living saint. She loves the church so much that, had it not been for her disability, she would have been a nun."

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