Matilda's fight delights proud parents

MARCUS and Nicky Powling have a special reason to be thankful for their bouncing baby girl.Months before young Matilda's birth, they were dealt a crushing blow - doctors found she was suffering from a rare condition which meant she had only a 50/50 chance of survival.

Dave Gooderham

MARCUS and Nicky Powling have a special reason to be thankful for their bouncing baby girl.

Months before young Matilda's birth, they were dealt a crushing blow - doctors found she was suffering from a rare condition which meant she had only a 50/50 chance of survival.

She had developed a diaphragmatic hernia, which had squashed her lungs and caused her heart to shift position.

Nicky was only 21 weeks pregnant when doctors told her the “devastating” news of the condition, which meant that her unborn daughter's diaphragm did not develop properly during pregnancy.

The moment Matilda was born at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, she was rushed straight into intensive care and underwent a critical operation just days later.

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Since her dramatic ordeal in December, Matilda has made a remarkable recovery and Mr Powling paid glowing tribute to Addenbrooke's and West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, where his daughter was also treated.

He said: “We were absolutely devastated when we were told the survival odds were little better than 50/50. It was harder for my wife because she was actually carrying the baby.

“Whatever I felt, it was two or three times worse for her. It was difficult at first as we didn't know what was happening as it was our first child. That made it particularly tough but we had great family around us.

“There was a hole in the baby's diaphragm which allowed organs through and squashed the lungs. This forced her heart to one side. As soon as Matilda was born, she was taken from us and taken straight to intensive care.”

Mr Powling, 30, who works on the IT helpdesk at the West Suffolk Hospital, has now decided to say thank you and raise money for the two hospitals in a slightly unconventional way.

On June 6, he will walk the 10 minutes to work, spend all day and possibly all night dressed as a baby, complete with nappy, booties and dummy.

He explained: “Our main motivation is that we credit both hospitals for saving her life. She was operated on her when she was just four days old - hence the baby costume.

“We received such fantastic care and my motivation for this fundraising is that I owe both hospitals such a debt of gratitude. I could never really repay them fully but I just want to do anything which will help.

“Matilda's left lung is still a little small and we will have to wait and see how that grows. There are some side effects and she sometimes has trouble keeping milk and food down. But to look at her, she just looks like a normal, healthy baby. The doctors are very hopeful and it appears that the hard work has been done.”

FACTFILE

A congenital diaphragmatic hernia occurs when the diaphragm does not form properly during pregnancy. A defect or hole in the diaphragm allows the intestine to push through the muscle, squashing the lungs, and preventing the lungs from developing properly.

Babies with a diaphragmatic hernia can have breathing and feeding problems. Up to half of babies with a diaphragmatic hernia also have other serious problems, such heart and kidney defects.

This type of hernia is very rare. It is estimated that a diaphragmatic hernia occurs in one in every 2,500 to 5,000 pregnancies, and most babies with this problem are identified during an antenatal scan>

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