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Feisty, bright, happy, amazing ..and very brave; family's joy as laila defies the odds Mum hails plucky daughter as she prepares for her third life-saving open heart surgery.


A LITTLE girl given a 25 per cent chance of survival at birth after medics found most of her internal organs were on her right side has had her best Christmas ever.

Laila Rice, six, was born with two right lungs and kidneys, a mid-line liver, no spleen and a twisted bowel.

She baffled medics and her parents Ashley and Brian were told she was unlikely to survive.

The past six years have been an emotional roller-coaster for the family, including Laila's stepbrother Dylan, 17, but they pulled out the stops to have a magical Christmas.

Laila will undergo a life-saving operation in the New Year, so they made sure Christmas started early - in November.

Mum Ashley, 33, said: "Laila is the feistiest, brightest wee girl and I don't regret any of this as we wouldn't have the amazing wee girl we have without it.

"You would go to the ends of the earth for your kids and with Laila, she's so special she could get you through anything.

"We don't think too far ahead, you can't. We just hope that a few years down the line, there will be advances in medicine that will help her."

The primary school pupil celebrated Christmas with a succession of pantomimes, parties and gifts, ahead of her third open heart surgery in 2019.

Ashley said: "It is a unique condition - Laila's organs mirror the right side of her body.

"She is the only child with that genetic make up in the UK."

At six days old, Laila had her first open heart surgery, after being diagnosed with three heart problems - pulmonary atresia, transposition of the great arteries and complete AVSD.

Those conditions, along with heterotaxy syndrome, gave her a 25 per cent chance of survival.

The op was a success and Laila was taken to ICU and high dependency - but her feeding tube brought up bile, indicating a problem with her bowel.

Brian, 35, and Ashley, from West Calder, West Lothian, were warned the problem could be fatal - but medics managed to save the organ as Laila's weight fell to 5lb 10oz.

It was 14 months before a second operation could be carried out on Laila's heart.

She was in surgery for 16 hours but as she recovered, Laila's oxygen levels began to fall and she was too ill to move to an operating theatre.

Surgeons were forced to close off the ward she was in and carry out the procedure there. More than 12 hours later, Brian and Ashley were told Laila could not be taken off an artificial lung.

Over the next 24 hours, medics had to clean out Laila's chest three times to remove clotting, closing the ward every time. Both sets of grandparents were brought in with Brian and Ashley and told the procedure was not working and she was unlikely to survive.

Laila was eventually taken off the machine which was keeping her alive but then developed E coli in her chest.

For a second time, her parents were warned it was unlikely Laila would live but she made an astonishing recovery.

Ashley said: "The readings were so good we thought this was a different child in her bed.

"Then we noticed the nurses were smiling. That child in the bed was Laila. It was like a miracle had happened."

She had spent four weeks on life support and had regressed to being like a newborn baby, no longer able to crawl. Laila needed physiotherapy to help her regain the skills she had lost.

Ashley said: "The surgery in the New Year is the final stage of open heart surgery and we hope it will last into her teens.

"Inevitably, she'll need a heart transplant, which the NHS don't carry out on children."

But the family are optimistic advances in medical science will help their daughter when the time comes.

Rather than sending Christmas cards, this year they asked friends and family to donate to the Glasgow Children's Charity appeal. To donate, visit /192615021


SO CLOSE Laila with her mum Ashley

WEE TROOPER Laila after surgery as a tot and, inset, now.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 29, 2018
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