Mum hopes to see her daughter walk

By Rebecca SheppardA MOTHER who did not think she would ever bring her baby girl home from hospital last year is looking forward to seeing her walk in 2004.

By Rebecca Sheppard

A MOTHER who did not think she would ever bring her baby girl home from hospital last year is looking forward to seeing her walk in 2004.

Hayley Levett, 28, has told of her relief that the year is over after her little girl, Bethany, almost died from a rare heart condition and had to have her leg amputated when she was only three weeks old.

Mrs Levett, who lives in Stowmarket, also spoke of her hopes for the New Year as her brave daughter prepares to celebrate her first birthday on January 14.

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“It is quite nice to start a new year. We have thought that it could have been a lot different,” she said.

“We are lucky to have her. It doesn't seem like a year has gone - it has flown by, but the three weeks at hospital seemed like forever.”

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Only weeks after Mrs Levett and her husband, Darren, 31, brought their daughter home from West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Bethany almost died when her heart stopped for 40 minutes.

Doctors at Ipswich Hospital had to kick-start her heart by giving her a drug, which was injected straight into the bone marrow in her leg.

The first time they tried to administer it, the drug did not work and the powerful medication burnt Bethany's leg.

When they tried the same procedure in her other leg, it successfully stimulated her heart, but it paralysed her leg from her knee to her toes.

After 12 hours at Ipswich Hospital, Bethany was transferred to Guy's Hospital in London, where doctors fought for six days to stabilise her heartbeat, but had to amputate her leg through the knee.

However, in the past 11 months Bethany has made miraculous progress with the help of specialists and doctors.

But while most parents think of the presents they will give and the party they will throw to celebrate their child's first birthday, at the forefront of Mrs Levett's mind was her hope that Bethany will soon be able to be fitted with a prosthetic limb.

Next week, the youngster will see a limb specialist from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, who will determine whether Bethany is ready to walk with the aid of a prosthetic leg.

She had a similar appointment before Christmas, but the specialist said it was too soon to fit the leg as although she is crawling, she does not pull herself up.

“It's just a case of keeping an eye on her. It won't be fitted until she pulls herself up and I suppose that has taken longer than a baby who has not been through all she has,” said Mrs Levett.

Bethany's thigh will sit in the prosthetic limb like a sock and will be fastened to her with a belt around her waist.

However, it will not be fitted with a knee joint until she is older, so Bethany will have to learn to walk with a stiff leg.

Mrs Levett, who will become a full-time mother to Bethany and her three-and-a-half-year-old sister, Chloe, at the end of January, said it would be “lovely” to see Bethany walk.

She added one of the highlights of 2004 would be to buy Bethany - who has recently learned to wave and clap - her first pair of shoes.

“This time last year I did not imagine anything like this would happen. I was just worrying about giving birth and how Chloe would be with the new baby,” said Mrs Levett.

“I never for one moment thought of what we have gone through or what Bethany has gone through.”

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