Parents' pride in brave Hollie

By John HowardPARENTS have spoken of their pride in their young daughter who is leading a full life, despite doctors fearing she would not survive after being born prematurely at just 23 weeks.

By John Howard

PARENTS have spoken of their pride in their young daughter who is leading a full life, despite doctors fearing she would not survive after being born prematurely at just 23 weeks.

Hollie Burrows stubbornly refuses to let her wheelchair get in her way of making friends and enjoying life as she plays with friends at school.

The youngster, from Stowmarket, is about to celebrate her seventh birthday and her family believe she is truly a miracle.

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But it could all have been so different.

Born on December 6, 1996, in room 18 on the Victoria Ward at Guy's Hospital in London, Hollie was just 23 weeks old and weighed only 1lb 4oz.

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Doctors were so worried about Hollie, they rushed her away for treatment and did not even have time to let her parents know the sex of their new baby.

The family were told she had a slim 20% chance of living and Mrs Burrows, a bank call centre manager who works in Clacton, recalled: "Every day we did not know if she would live or die, every day was a bonus.

"The nurses were excited for us, but tried not to build up our hopes and were very honest from the start.

"The doctors did not think she would survive, born that premature she was underdeveloped and her eyes were still fused, not even open at that stage.

"Her lungs were inadequate and she was so tiny. She started life on a life support machine and needed oxygen. At Christmas the nurses did us a card with her feet on it, the marks made from little paint prints. Her feet were just over 1.5 inches."

Up until Christmas 1996, Hollie had some little infections that babies get, but she was putting on weight gradually and doing well.

But then Hollie needed an operation to close a heart duct and by the end of December she was facing possible kidney failure that would kill a premature baby.

Mr Burrows, a 40-year-old driver in with Ipswich Buses, kept a diary from Hollie's early days, detailing their emotions.

He wrote at the time: "We just wanted our daughter to live. We wanted a miracle, we got our miracle, we are so overcome."

The couple, who had lost another premature baby earlier in the year, took more than 100 pictures of their new baby to treasure in case she died.

But Hollie fought back and regained her strength. She stayed at Guy's Hospital until March after her birth and was then transferred to a hospital near the couple's then home in Kent for another month.

Hollie needed oxygen from a tank for a year and the couple had tanks in every room and one in the pram hidden under a blanket.

Mr and Mrs Burrows later moved from Kent to Suffolk, moving in to a cottage on the edge of Stowmarket in Poplar Hill.

But Hollie had not been developing at the rate the couple thought she should and tests revealed she had cerebral palsy.

Hollie has to use an electric wheelchair and is unable to sit up on her own because her body goes floppy and has been having treatment from physiotherapy experts.

But her hearing and eyesight are fine ands she is mentally alert, coping with mainstream education at Combs Ford Primary School in Stowmarket.

School headteacher, Alan Shoote, said Hollie coped well with most of school life and the other children gained an appreciation and understanding from growing up with someone who was disabled.

Hollie loves playing with her friends and her parents and at weddings was always first to get on to the dance floor in her wheelchair.

Mrs Burrows, 44, said: "She is full of life. She loves her books, wants to read, wants to talk, play cards, listen to music. She has issues as a disabled child, gets frustrated and angry, but we are so proud of her.

"She is a strong child, always smiling, a happy, social little girl. People tell us she is a credit to us."

n Mr and Mrs Burrows, their friends and family, fundraise to help Hollie have extra treatment and equipment. If you would like to support Hollie, you can send a cheque made payable to "Hollie R Burrows'' to Wishbone Cottage, Poplar Hill, Stowmarket.

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