After being born with many key organs on the outside of her body, Laurel Phizacklea has completely defied the odds of survival.
The toddler's parents Kelly and Shaun revealed that they were initially offered a termination at their 12-week scan doctors discovered that little Laurel would be born with some of her organs on the outside. The condition known as exomphalos occurs when the abdominal wall doesn't form during gestation.
Laurel was born in June 2018 safe and sound. Although, the little fighter brought with her a ball protruding from her tummy which carried in it her stomach, liver and bowel. Laurel's parents have always been committed to their baby and have made sure to wrap the externalised organs in bandages to protect them from harm.
Kelly, who supports other parents in neonatal care stated:
I don't know how we remained positive throughout my pregnancy with Laurel. It really looked as if she wouldn't survive birth - but Sean and I never gave up hope and she has done us so proud.
Usually, babies born with exomphalos have surgery to get their organs put back in the right place. However, due to the size of Laurel's lump, she has to wait another year before doctors can perform the operation. Kelly continued:
Her pouch of organs on her tummy is a part of her and she doesn't let it get her down. Laurel is a true inspiration and amazes us every day.
Since birth, skin has started to grow around Laurel's organs and she is able to do many normal things such as drinking and going to the bathroom. Laurel really is a true fighter. But, her parent's say they do have to keep a close eye on her as she has become quite the daredevil toddler and any injury to Laurel's organs could be irreparable. Kelly revealed:
We quickly realised she was an adventurous baby, so knew we'd need to keep an eye on her so she wouldn't damage her exomphalos. Even though we try to make sure she's sensible and careful, it's so hard with a two-year-old. She still tries to jump off the arm of the sofa, and loves being in a muddy puddle splashing about outdoors. She's a bit of a daredevil - which can be a little stressful but that's all part of why we love her!
When reflecting on her pregnancy, Kelly couldn't believe that the doctors had offered her a termination:
We couldn't quite believe what we were hearing when they offered us an abortion. People kept saying: 'It's OK, you can try again' - but I didn't want another baby. I was so in love with this baby and we knew we would do everything we could for her.
Laurel was born via a vertical cesarean and doctors had warned Kelly that she should prepare not to hear her baby cry:
When we heard her cry out I couldn't believe it. Both Sean and I just burst into tears. We knew it was far from the end of it - but to hear her cry was a huge relief and from that moment we knew she was a fighter.
Laurel is a true inspiration!