Woman given low chance of survival at birth celebrates 50th birthday

Karen Higgs, who has a congenital heart condition and Down's Syndrome, has just celebrated her 50th birthday

Karen Higgs, who has a congenital heart condition and Down's Syndrome, has just celebrated her 50th birthday - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A woman with Down's Syndrome, who was never expected to survive her infancy because of a heart condition, is planning a huge party to celebrate turning 50 once lockdown ends.

Lyn Higgs was told by doctors her daughter Karen's chances of survival were remote.

Karen weighed only 9lbs on her first birthday and underwent two surgeries as a young child.

However, on Monday, February 22, she reached 50 — and celebrated by holding a Zoom party, as she has been shielding since March.

However, a bigger get-together at the local village hall, in Shotley Gate, is promised once social restrictions are lifted to celebrate the landmark.

Karen with her mum Lyn Higgs

Karen with her mum Lyn Higgs - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"She's a fighter, basically," said mum Lyn, who Karen lives with.

"She just enjoys life and doesn't let anything get in her way once she sets her mind on it.

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"When we were living in Essex, she came home from college one day and told us she'd just been into the new Sainsbury's to apply for a job and she's been working there ever since — none of us had any idea and she got that job all on her own.

"She's happy, considerate and a very good judge of character."

Karen lives with her parents and is keen to get back to work and see her friends at the Sainsbury's, in Hadleigh Road in Ipswich, where she is incredibly well known.

Walking around town will involve everyone stopping to say hello — including her customers.

Karen will be holding a big birthday bash in Shotley Gate as soon as it is safe to do so

Karen will be holding a big birthday bash in Shotley Gate as soon as it is safe to do so - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"She's such a social animal and has an amazing social life in normal times," Lyn added.

"Now she has her iPad, does Zoom calls and though she's a bit fed up with life being in lockdown, she enjoys her crafts and makes lovely cards..

"When she was young, she attended a special school but was also a member of the Brownies, Guides and had a good mix of normality.

"She did performing arts at college, joined the Chicken Shed and then, when we moved to Shotley, she joined the local drama group."

Karen has pulmonary hypertension and is classed extremely clinically vulnerable.

However, she cannot wait for her second coronavirus vaccine so normal life can resume.

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