Gallery: Ipswich girl Genna marks her 18th birthday - a day her family thought she’d never see

Genna in hospital

Genna in hospital - Credit: Archant

When tiny Genna Packer was born four months early doctors prepared her parents for the worst.

Genna Packer will turn 18 on July 6. She was a twin but her twin didn't survive. Jenna has many heal

Genna Packer will turn 18 on July 6. She was a twin but her twin didn't survive. Jenna has many health problems and was told she wouldn't live to see her 18th. Jenna pictured with her family. Left to right, Cheryl, Jenna, Robert and CJ Packer. - Credit: Archant

Cheryl and Robert Packer had already lost one daughter, Sophie – Genna’s twin.

Born suddenly in June 1995, when Cheryl’s waters broke, Sophie, who weighed just 1lb, was too little to survive.

Medics at Ipswich Hospital performed, what was at the time a pioneering procedure, placing a stitch into Cheryl’s cervix to try and prevent her second baby, Genna from arriving early. But 10 days later on July 6 the tiny tot was born.

It was two weeks before her parents were allowed to cuddle her and because she suffered brain damage, doctors were not hopeful of Genna surviving.

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But on Saturday, along with Genna’s younger brother CJ, the couple celebrated Genna’s 18th birthday – a day 44-year-old Cheryl and her 46-year-old husband, of Lambeth Close, Ipswich, never thought they would see.

“I was over the moon to find out I was pregnant, it was almost at five months though so it was a bit of a shock,” Mrs Packer said.

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“A couple of weeks later I was giving birth to Sophie. She lived for less than an hour. We had to plan a funeral for Sophie not knowing if Genna was going to survive.”

Weighing just 1lb 6 oz, Genna was in and out of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and specialist hospitals in London.

Mum Cheryl said: “Doctors didn’t give us a good prognosis. They told us not to get our hopes up.”

Genna, a student at Suffolk One, suffers cerebral palsy and other complications.

“She’s a typical teenager,” said Mrs Packer. “She’s lovely, great fun and always smiling.

“We are so proud of her, we never thought we would see this day.”

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