THE parents of a baby girl, who battled the odds even before she was born and faced open heart surgery at just 16 days old, want to thank the hospital who gave them a chance to "bring their little girl up".

Sarah Woolfenden, 21 and Chris Topping, 25, who live near Taylor Park, found out they were expecting their first child in October.

But after they went to the 12 week scan, they were told that their baby girl had liquid behind her neck.

They were referred to Liverpool Women's Hospital, which diagnosed their daughter with Turner Syndrome.

St Helens Star: Turner syndrome is a female-only genetic disorder that affects about 1 in every 2,000 baby girls.

A girl with Turner syndrome only has one normal X sex chromosome, rather than the usual two.

Turner syndrome can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including being shorter than average in height and having underdeveloped ovaries, resulting in a lack of monthly periods and infertility without medical intervention.

The young parents were told that their baby had only a 10 per cent chance of survival, with less than two per cent chance of making it to 16 weeks.

Sarah added: "We were heartbroken, we were offered termination if we wanted but we decided to carry on and let our baby decide what she wanted to do and she carried on fighting.

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"Then when she was at 18 weeks we found out she had potentially two heart conditions.

"Our world came crashing down again and we were constantly being told that our baby more than likely won’t make it."

But at 36 weeks Sarah gave birth to baby Emelia on May 31 and the tot was immediately rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.

After she was born doctors confirmed Emelia’s heart condition, hypoplastic aortic arch with a coarctation, which requires surgery.

Coarctation of the aorta refers to a condition where there is a tightness (or narrowing) in the aorta and hypoplastic aortic arch refers to a blockage in a certain location in the aorta.

The aorta is the major blood vessel carrying oxygenated blood to the body.

Emelia was transferred to Alder Hey at three days old.

Sarah added: "Emelia didn’t have an easy start, she was suspected to have sepsis when she was born then we got moved to Alder Hey and the staff on this ward cared for Emelia like she was their own daughter, and looked after Chris and I like we were family.

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"At 16 weeks the medication they were giving here stopped working, so two days later she went in for an open heart and lung bypass.

"The hardest thing I’ve ever have to do was handing over my baby, knowing the risks of such a complicated surgery.

"After nine hours in surgery we got a call saying we could go and see her in intensive care.

"Then when we did see her it was heartbreaking, she had all of these wires coming out her tiny body, she was on 13 different medications, including a sedative and paralysis drug to keep her sedated and perfectly still.

"I'll never be able to explain how it feels to touch your baby’s hand and her not responding. It was like looking at a doll.

"Her little chest was left open to help with swelling, meaning her heart was exposed with just a see through dressing on top.

"Her chest was closed the next morning, and she was taken off ventilation two days after that.

"Then once again our baby girl kept fighting and got released from intensive care after four days and took to feeding again amazingly, which a lot of babies that have gone through what she has, don't do.

"That was a little victory for her too.

"Nine days post surgery we were discharged."

Emelia is now doing very well and is home with her parents.

Proud mum Sarah added: "What Alder Hey did for us is beyond words really, they are all just amazing.

"The surgery gave her a 50/50 chance of survival, but them doing that has given us the chance to bring our little girl up.

"When she's older I'll tell her all about how brave she was and the amazing hospitals that saved her life, but right now I want to thank them too from the bottom of our hearts and raise money for them.

"It's not just doctors and nurses, they have volunteers in there that sit with the poorly babies, they are amazing.

"We were told that Emelia wouldn't make it, but Liverpool Women's and Alder Hey supported us all the way, she kept fighting even before she was here, we didn't give up on her and I'm so grateful for their support in helping us get her here.

"We have a long road ahead of us at Alder Hey. No one ever expects this will happen to them, so that's why we have to do all we can to thank this amazing hospital for all they do, whenever we need it."

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