‘Miracle baby’ starts long road to a normal life
AS ASHLEIGH Louw heard her mother Anastacia gently urging her to stop crying, the days-old infant stopped and she opened her eyes, soothed by the comforting sound of her mother’s voice.
Louw has had a “very hard” week spent agonising over the fate of her daughter, who was born last Friday with a rare congenital defect, pentallogy of Cantrell, that has left her heart partly outside her ribcage. It is protected only by a thin layer of skin.
But there is hope. At 8am, this morning, Dr Jerome Loveland, a paediatric surgeon at Milpark Hospital, was due to operate on Ashleigh at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital to repair a defect in her sternum, the first of a series of operations in the coming months to repair defects in the abdomen wall and diaphragm.
“We feel relieved now that she is having the operation,” said Anastacia’s sister, Olivea Louw. “This will protect the heart for the next two months. There are still a lot of things they need to fix before they can move her heart back into her body.
“She is really responding to her mom. The fact that she is recognising her mom’s voice is amazing. Anastacia has had a hard time. She hasn’t closed an eye since Ashleigh was born.”
Olivea said the baby would be moved to other hospitals for the other operations. Paediatric experts and specialists at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, where she is in the highcare neo-natal unit, have spent the week debating the best course of treatment.
“Ashleigh’s eyes are open and she is touching things. She is moving her hands up and down and we are worried she touches the skin. It’s very thin.”
Anastacia, a mother
of three, lives in a one-room shack in Eldorado Park, with her boyfriend. Grandmother Felicity Louw said she knew her granddaughter would pull through. “You won’t believe the feeling that went right through my body when I first saw her. That was such a shock. When she cries, you can see how fast her heart beats.
“But… She is our beautiful miracle child. And we believe she will pull through.
“I believe in that.”