Kesgrave: Family describe their short time with miracle baby Elliot as a privilege

IT was the nightmare diagnosis which every expectant parent lives in fear of.

Charlotte and Melvyn Markham had been overjoyed to learn they were expecting their second child – a brother to nine-year-old Louis – after years of trying without success.

But their happiness quickly turned to despair when the results of their routine 20-week scan revealed an abnormality.

Specialists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge diagnosed Elliot with Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, a genetic disorder which affects one in 6,000 live births.

Most babies suffering from the condition die before birth while only eight per cent of those who are born survive for a year or more.

In addition, Elliot had an interrupted aortic arch and a hole in the heart.

Despite his condition, his parents, of Terry Gardens, Kesgrave, made the decision to continue with the pregnancy – and on June 8 at 6.15pm, their bundle of joy was born, weighing just 3lb 14oz.

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The family had 17 hours together before little Elliot succumbed to his ailments.

Mr Markham, 41, said: “Elliot’s condition was such that the majority of babies with that condition don’t make it to full term.

“At that point we were given the choice as to whether we wanted to continue or make what is a very difficult decision to terminate.

“We made the decision which we felt was right for us, which was to continue and bring Elliot into the world.

“The fact that Charlotte fell pregnant with Elliot naturally in itself was a miracle.”

He added: “One of the things we were both very clear on from the outset was that under no circumstances did we want Elliot to suffer.

“If he wasn’t breathing when he was born, we didn’t want him to be subjected to any form of aggressive resuscitation.”

Mrs Markham, 38, was induced at full-term and gave birth to Elliot at Ipswich Hospital.

He was baptised by the family’s vicar, Robin Spittle, from All Saints’ Church in Kesgrave.

Mrs Markham said: “He cried as soon as he was born. He was bright-eyed and alert.

“I have never seen a newborn so alert. He was obviously very poorly but we didn’t see that at the time.”

Her husband added: “There was this ultimate high because Elliot was here, and the fact he arrived was a miracle, but then there was the comedown with a crushing thud the following morning when he took his last breath.”

Within four hours of his arrival, Elliot was at home with his parents and proud big brother thanks to the work of Ipswich Hospital and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

“We had three wishes for Elliot – for him to be born alive, to bring him home and for us all to sleep in one bedroom for the night as a family,” Mrs Markham said.

“We took him to bed and both held him throughout the night. We feel privileged to have had him. He was our true miracle.

“There is very little information available regarding Edwards’ syndrome. Through my own research we discovered an organisation called SOFTuk, Support Organisation for Trisomy. This organisation provides support and information to families affected by the condition.”

Family and friends attended Elliot’s funeral at All Saints’ Church on June 19 where rather than floral tributes the family requested donations to either EACH or SOFTuk.

Donations can still be made via Michael Smy Funeral Service, 145 Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, IP3 8EB or 01473 271674.

The Markham family have been overwhelmed with the support provided by family, friends, organisations, hospitals, but most of all, EACH.

Mr Markham said: “Before Elliot arrived, EACH had been in touch and put in place various measures to allow for any scenario after his birth.

“Whether we wanted the hospice for palliative care or the True Colours nurses to come into our home.

“After Elliot passed away we were given the opportunity to use the facility at the Treehouse where we could spend time with him.

“We stayed for a couple of days which allowed us to spend time as and when we wanted to with Elliot.”

The stay allowed the family to create memories with Elliot by taking footprints and handprints as well as making casts of his tiny hands and feet.

He added: “EACH have done a tremendous job in supporting us as a family.

“Many people view the hospice as there to support people and children affected by various health issues, but they also provide support for families like ourselves that have suffered a bereavement and that support is just fantastic.”

The couple also want to thank staff at Ipswich and Addenbrooke’s Hospitals, the community at All Saints’ Church in Kesgrave and staff at Louis’ school.