County Durham baby expected to live for minutes celebrates her first birthday

Alice Holmes reports on local baby with Spina Difida who defied the odds and celebrated her first birthday.

Alice Holmes
2nd December 2020
On 18 November 2020, Leona-Grace celebrated her first birthday, bringing hope to her family who were told it would never happen

Leona-Grace was born via c-section on 18 November 2019, five and a half weeks ahead of her due date. Doctors told mother-of-three, Samantha Perryman, that they believed her daughter would only live a few minutes. A year later, she is celebrating her first birthday and defying the odds. 

Leona-Grace was diagnosed at the 20-week scan with spina bifida, a rare type of neural tube defect. It is caused from a lack of development between the baby’s spine and the spinal cord in the womb which ultimately results in a gap in the spine. A lack of folic acid during pregnancy is said to be a risk factor, however currently it is not known what causes this rare disease. Once diagnosed, doctors presumed the heart-breaking news that she would only live a few minutes.

After being born, she was also diagnosed with scoliosis. She is missing four ribs on the right side and has two fused together on the left. She also has patent ductur arteriosus, which is where the blood vessel between the pulmonary artery and the aorta remains open. This makes it harder for her to breathe which can lead to heart failure and the possibility of lungs haemorrhage at any time.

Regardless of these challenges, Leona-Grace has defied all difficulties against her and continues to fight. She isn't expected to crawl or walk, but her parents are grateful of the time they have spent with her and that they retained hope during these challenging times. 

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