Miracle baby Sydney Groves suffers from a rare birth defect of the abdominal wall – Gastroschisis.
Being born without a bowel inside her stomach is not only frightening but can also result in death. However, this little bundle of joy survived against all odds proving science wrong and baffling doctors as she continues to fight against this severe medical condition.
Born with her bowel outside of her body, Sydney defied all odds and cheated death exactly a year ago. Today she is celebrating her first birthday and according to her mom, Fran Groves, now 26, Sydney did have a shaky start from the beginning, but it has seemingly had no ill effects on her now as she is a happy and lively one-year-old.
Suffering from Gastroschisis – it was days before she could go to the toilet, and weeks before the little tot could eat. Even milk from her mom had to be fed through a tube via her nose and into her stomach.
After initially developing outside the umbilical cord, most newborns' intestines move inside their abdomen by 11 weeks' old. But it was not the same with Sydney. It was at her mom's beautician during her 12-week scan at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, where Sydney was diagnosed with this ultra-rare condition and it came as nothing less than a shock.
"It was the last thing we expected. I was with my husband Paul, now 45, and suddenly the consultant noticed something amiss. It was scary to be told at my first scan that something wasn't right", said Fran. "We were told our baby was just one in 3,000 babies who would be born with this condition, and we had so many concerns."
It was then when they decided to transfer Fran's to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel that was miles away from their home.
Some newborns that suffer from this condition have their intestine or even bladder exposed, but luckily for Sydney, only her bowels were exposed. Fran had ultrasounds every four weeks to check Sydney's progress and it was at her 16-week scan that she came to know about it.
They were told that the pregnancy would not progress beyond 37 weeks because it would not be safe for the little one. In late December 2015, Fran was admitted to the hospital for an induced labor, but it took Sydney a whole five days to arrive, following an emergency caesarean.
Sydney weighed about 5lbs 8 oz and was whisked to an incubator in the neonatal intensive care before the proud parents were taken to see her. Fran was surrounded by about 20 doctors, nurses, and support staff when Sydney arrived. She was warned by doctors that Sydney might not scream.
"Doctors warned me she might not scream, but she let out a giant yell. It was the best sound", Fran recalls. She further added, "NICU was ready for her with a team of surgeons, midwives, paediatric doctors, nurses and many other support staff. Sydney was immediately taken to the resuscitation table, where the doctors did all of their initial checks. Her bowel was wrapped tightly to her body, with what looked like a special version of Clingfilm, which would help protect it."
"She was then placed into an incubator and before she was rushed off, we were lucky enough to be able to see her, take our first photos, and touch her. These were all the things we didn't think would be possible, so we were completely and utterly overwhelmed."
A friend of Fran's had a baby who'd suffered from the same condition and she'd seen the pictures, so Fran wasn't shocked to see Sydney when she arrived. She knew what Sydney would look like.
The couple knew once Sydney was born she had to face a huge battle, but what they didn't know was how long it would take her to get better.
Fran and Paul, stayed in The Stevenson House, a special family accommodation courtesy of The Sick Children's Trust. It was just minutes away and it enabled them to visit Sydney constantly.
The Clingfilm that was actually a silo bag was reduced in size over the next few days and gravity pushed Sydney's bowel back into her body. With her bowels back in her body for four days, the surgeons finally stitched her stomach up during a two-hour long operation.
"To look at her now, it's amazing to think what she's been through. She' wonderful", Fran laughed.
"She's a star."