A ‘MIRACLE’ baby who weighed just over a pound when she was born at 24 weeks defied the odds to survive.
And today (Wednesday) almost five year’s on from the trauma of her birth, little Aimee Danielle McAllister is starting school.
Proud parents Denise and Robert,from Greenhills, told the News their little girl has amazed them at every turn, battling numerous setbacks along the way including needing oxygen 24-hours-a-day and heart surgery.
Seeing their “little princess” walk though the gates of Greenhills Primary is a day they feared would never come.
Denise, 30, was pregnant with twins when she went into labour half way into what had been a normal pregnancy.
Just days after her 20-week scan, which showed both babies were perfectly healthy, she began bleeding heavily and, after being rushed to the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital, she went into labour.
Tragically, Aimee’s brother Daniel could not be saved after being delivered and it was feared Aimee would be born soon after. With no baby having survived before 22 weeks, doctors feared her chances were remote.
Denise was even offered an abortion, an option she and Robert never considered. Crucially, Denise was able to prolong her daughter’s time in the womb for a further 25 days.
Aimee was born on September 17, 2007 – 16 weeks earlier than a normal full-term pregnancy.
Although Denise and Robert, 36, nearly lost Aimee several times and she needed heart and eye surgery and life-saving blood transfusions, she was finally allowed home after spending 185 days in intensive care.
Doting mum Denise said: Aimee makes my heart beat. She is a true miracle and my little princess and has constantly amazed us. We are just so proud of her.
“There have been many times when I thought she would never make her first day at school.
“I have just been thinking how can someone survive against all the odds like Aimee has after being born so early. We take her back to the Princess Royal every year to see the staff and doctors and they can’t believe her progress.”
Mum Denise has been busy preparing for Aimee’s first day at school although she has faced a few challenges along the way.
“Because Aimee is so small, it was difficult to get things to fit her properly,” she said.
“Her trousers are age three and I had real problems getting shoes to fit her properly because her feet are so narrow. With other children when they reach a landmark, like going to nursery or their first day at school, it is expected.
“But when Aimee reaches a certain point it is special because she was never expected to make it this far. She will be in an additional needs class with just eight pupils so I am positive she will get all the support she needs.
“I am a little nervous about whether she is ready to start school or not but she has proved me wrong all along and I am sure she will do it again.
“Today will be an emotional day but a bitter sweet one as her twin brother Daniel should have been there with her. But he will always be in our hearts and I truly believe it is Daniel who has carried her through so far.”
Aimee’s battle for survival and mum Denise’s harrowing ordeal led to them being the face of a blood-donor campaign in 2008 when the now energetic little girl was just six-months-old.
Blood donation is still an important part of the family’s lives and dad Robert and Aimee’s gran Celia Duncan still donate to this day.
“Myself and Aimee only survived because we were given blood. I was given four pints of blood, which was over half my body volume, and Aimee received 13 teaspoons, along with other blood products.
“What I would always say is it shouldn't take a tragedy to make you donate blood,” Denise continued. “It took a tragedy to make my family become blood donors and people don’t realise just how important it is to give blood until they need it.”
Aimee was joined by little sister, Katie, 20-months-ago and this time Denise experienced a normal pregnancy and birth..Katie was born at 39 weeks weighing over seven pounds.
“I was a nervous wreck when I was pregnant with Katie but bringing home a normal baby was amazing,” said Denise. “I spent every waking hour with Aimee when she was in intensive care and, for years after, I could still hear the alarms that rang when something was wrong in my sleep but having Katie has really helped me.”
Despite her traumatic start in life Aimee is a bright and bubbly little girl but she still faces challenges associated with premature birth.
These include developmental delay, chronic lung disease and a weakness in her field of vision as well as other problems associated with prematurity.
But Denise is positive that, whatever the future holds, the family will face it head on: She added: “We are amazed at what Aimee has achieved in life so far and she makes us smile every day. After everything we have been through we can deal with anything.”