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Ffion Poole (Little Miss Miracle)

A GWERNYMYNYDD mum has hailed the medical and nursing staff of Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Maternity and Special Care Baby Unit as ‘Angels‘.

Claire Poole, 28, now has her little Miss Miracle, Ffion, home after she was born by emergency caesarean section after a pregnancy of just 27 weeks.

And after Ffion was born needing emergency heart surgery and battling chronic lung problems while weighing little more than a bag of sugar, Claire admits she never really thought she’d ever see the day when she’d get to take her precious daughter home.

But former bar manager, Claire, and partner, civil engineer, Ben Gerrard, didn’t reckon just how hard  tiny Ffion would fight for life nor just how dedicated and professional the Wrexham Maelor Hospital team would prove.

Claire said: “We knew Ffion was going to be early, very early, due to the problems I had in pregnancy.

“My first child, Elyse, who is now five, had enjoyed a normal birth following an absolutely normal pregnancy. In fact she was a few days late and perfectly healthy.

“However, with Ffion we knew very early I had a problem after suffering a bad bleed five weeks into the pregnancy. I had tests and was told the placenta was low and basically breaking up.

“I was monitored very carefully and was in and out of hospital from 23 weeks into the pregnancy.

“It was tough as I had to basically lie still in a hospital bed which is not easy when you have a lively five-year-old like Elyse to think of!”

However, Claire was allowed home for Christmas even though she couldn’t really do much other than lie on the sofa.

Then, on Saturday, January  7th Claire suffered a massive haemorrhage and was rushed into theatre for an emergency caesarean.

She said: “I had a grade four placenta praevia and there was no choice, Ffion had to come out. She was so tiny and her lungs were simply not developed sufficiently to allow her to breathe on her own.

“She was bright red and weighed just two pounds 10-and-a-half ounces. She was rushed to an incubator and put on a life support machine. I had to have several blood transfusions and was pretty poorly in Intensive Care but all I could think about was Ffion and Elyse.

“If I’m honest, I never ever thought we’d ever get her home. However, the staff were always so positive and professional. They never gave us false hope but didn’t make any promises they couldn’t keep. They always made us feel that every hour was a bonus and every day a miracle.”

And Ffion remained in an incubator and on a life support machine, which breathed for her, for months while her anxious mum, dad and big sister could only watch and hope.

Claire said: “I never got to hold Ffion until she was eight weeks old. She was still in an incubator with wires and tubes everywhere but they lifted her up and put in her in my hands inside the incubator for just 30 seconds.

“It was an amazing feeling and I think it was then that I started to think that just maybe she’ll keep fighting and make it.

“We had two trips to Alder Hey Hospital to contend with too. Ffion went in a travel incubator in the back of an ambulance with blue lights all the way.

“They even closed the tunnel so we had a clear run through without traffic to contend with, it was amazing.

“The first time was to have a Broviac line put in so they could get fluids into her. The problem was her veins were so small and narrow it was incredibly difficult. The line was an intravenous catheter through which they could give her blood and fluids.

“The second time was for heart surgery to close a valve. Apparently this valve normally closes when a baby is born and their first breath. But in Ffion’s case it hadn’t closed and had to be closed surgically..”

However, as Ffion continued to fight for life and slowly put on weight, her biggest danger was from infections.

Claire said: “She suffered terribly from one infection after another but that was simply down to the fact her lungs were so underdeveloped. She was on oxygen continually but slowly began to grow stronger.

“Finally, on Thursday, April 19th we brought her home. It was such a fantastic day for us all but particularly Ben and Elyse. It’s been tough for a five-year-old but Elyse has been absolutely brilliant.

“Now Ffion’s grandparents, aunties and uncles are so happy she’s home and they can spoil her. She came home still dependant on oxygen but we have just started the weaning process.

“Initially I had to take her off oxygen for 30 minutes a day and now we are up to six hours off a day so we are getting there. She is so much stronger and putting on weight.

“She’s even on blended baby food now and they tell me, although she’s now coming up to six months and is the average size and weight of a nine week old, by the time she’s two she will have caught up.
“And by the time she is seven we’ll know what, if any, damage there is to her lungs.”

And while Claire dotes on her two precious daughters she is in no doubt who is responsible for the gift of Ffion’s life.

She said: “The staff at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, both the Maternity and Special Care Baby Unit teams they are the ones we have to thank. They are unbelievable and angels, each and everyone of them.

“We drop into see them so they can see how Ffion’s is growing and getting stronger when we can and they always make such a fuss of her. They always called Ffion, Miss Miracle, but she never would have made it without them.

“There is another group of unsung heroes too, blood donors. I had 12 units of blood in transfusions and Ffion wouldn’t have survived without the blood she received.

“I take my hat off to every blood donor. I am sure many give blood without ever knowing how important and vital their gift really is.”

And as Ffion’s smiles turn to tears Claire laughs and prepares another bottle of milk.

She says: “She’s like a little bird, always hungry, but I suppose she needs to catch up. She’s now nine pounds and fighting fit and she’s our little miracle.

“I could never really tell the medical team that gave her the gift of life what I really think of their professionalism and dedication. But to me they really are, and always will be, angels.”

Page Last Updated - 21/06/2012
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