Second birthday for brave tot Maya Ratcliffe
MAYA Ratcliffe is a happy, smiling little girl who loves the colour pink.
But behind the wide grin and sparkling eyes the toddler, who turns two on Saturday, has been through more in her short life than most would in a lifetime.
She was born with spina bifida, a fault in the development of the spine and surrounding vertebrae, leaving a gap or split in the spine.
On top of that, she also has hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid accumulates around the brain.
Her parents, Fay Dovey and Aaron Ratcliffe, from Tonge Moor and Smithills respectively, were advised numerous times to abort her, but despite the risks, the couple were determined to give Maya a chance.
She was born at the Royal Bolton Hospital on October 12, 2011, and rushed to Manchester Children’s Hospital where the new parents had to wait 14 hours before they could see her.
She has had various operations, developed meningitis at five weeks and more recently had 27 epileptic seizures relating to her conditions — but she has battled through and now the family, including new addition Max, are celebrating her milestone second birthday.
Miss Dovey said: “I was totally devastated when we were told something wasn’t right with Maya. We didn’t know about spina bifida and hydrocephalus — they were words we’d never heard before we were told she had them.
“We’d been trying for a baby for almost a year before I fell pregnant with Maya so we were so happy. Everything was fine until June 14, 2011, when we had a scan at 20 weeks.
“Rather than finding out the sex of our baby we were told that she might have a serious condition, which left us shocked and devastated.
“We were advised on several occasions to terminate the pregnancy because she would have such a poor quality of life.
“But we wanted to give her a chance. We’d been trying for a family for so long and were unsuccessful, so we felt like it was her choice to be here — and she continued to survive.”
On October 8, after another scan, Miss Dovey was booked in for a Caesarean after the condition was seen to be worse than first anticipated.
The mum of two said: “I had to have a C-section because there was a risk she’d come out not breathing. But thankfully she came out screaming so we knew she was okay.
“She was rushed to Manchester Children’s Hospital’s neo natal unit, and we had to wait 14 hours to see her, which was so difficult. But she was worth the wait.”
Brave Maya had to endure two operations at birth, including a shunt, which has valves that regulate both the direction and amount of fluid that is drained from the head.
Miss Dovey added: “Then she got meningitis at five weeks which was a big shock because that was something we didn’t expect.
“She spent two weeks in an incubator so Aaron and I sat by her bedside both day and night just watching her.”
Despite defying the doctors at each hurdle, little Maya still has to endure a lot of treatment.
Miss Dovey said: “We have to stay in Peterborough every three months as she has specialist treatment at Addenbrookes Hospital. She has regular intensive physio to help with her movement. We were told she would never sit, stand, eat and talk, but she can do all those things.
“Now she’s a happy two year old doing well after a couple of months of epileptic seizures which have calmed down now thanks to medication.
“We’ve recently had a little boy, Max, who Maya adores. She always says, ‘I love you Max’ before bed. We’ve got a perfect family now.”
The couple are raising money for charity Shine by taking part in the Perkins Great Eastern Run in Peterborough on Sunday.
They are also raising awareness about the benefits of taking folic acid which can lessen the chance of having neural defects in a baby.
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