A BABY who only had a 50/50 chance of survival has grown into a healthy little girl who is about to embark on an important milestone - starting school.

When Nicky Powling, 29, of Anderson Walk, Bury St Edmunds, was only 21 weeks pregnant she was given news which she described as a “bombshell”: her baby had a diaphragmatic hernia.

Matilda’s belly organs, such as her stomach and intestines, were in her chest so she only had one lung and her heart had been pushed right over onto the wrong side.

At only a few days old she underwent an operation in which medics made her a diaphragm from tissue in her back and put everything back to where it should be.

Four-and-a-half-years later Matilda is a healthy little girl who “doesn’t stop,” enjoying dance school, rollerskating and who will start at Thurston Primary School next month.

Mrs Powling and her husband Marcus, 34, want their daughter’s success story to give other parents who may be a similar situation the hope that everything can work out.

Mrs Powling, who is a teacher at Thurston Community College, said: “There are obviously lots of parents who hear that news their baby is not going to have a very good start in life and to know there can be a positive outcome and things can work out - I know at the time if people had said that to me it would’ve given me a lot of hope and made it a lot easier for me.

“She’s brilliant. You wouldn’t know there’s anything wrong now. She’s a normal, healthy, happy little girl. We are delighted.”

Mrs Powling said at the time of their ordeal they did not know any parents they could talk to who were going through the same thing, and a lot of the stories she found on the internet were “bad news stories”.

But she said since Matilda’s birth a charity has been set up called CDH UK to support families with babies who have a diaphragmatic hernia.

On how her daughter is doing now, she said she does have a problem with reflux, but apart from that she was “absolutely fine,” including her breathing. She explained how Matilda actually has two lungs as a left lung had developed.

“She’s always done much better than what she was supposed to do and really the scenarios that we were given - that she would probably be coming home with oxygen and all sorts of support, and she didn’t actually need that. And she’s done really well.”

Mrs Powling said her husband and her - who now have a two-year-old boy called Reggie - chose the name Matilda as it means “brave warrior”.