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It's the best Christmas present we could ever wish for our wee Shanny It's the best Christmas present we could ever wish for our.

Byline: By JUDITH DUFFY

THE parents of a little girl born with a deformed heart last night thanked the surgeons who gave them their daughter back.

Dad Dougie Withers said: ``This is the greatest Christmas gift anyone could give.''

Five-year-old Shannon was born unable to get enough oxygen into her blood.

The artery linking her heart and lungs was missing a condition known as pulmonary artresia.

Shannon had the operation that will change her life at Glasgow's Yorkhill children's hospital two weeks ago.

Dougie added: ``This has brought home the true meaning of Christmas.

``There were a couple of times last week when we thought we would never see her again.

``It is hard to put into words but they gave us our daughter back.''

The surgery completed a two-part op begun when Shannon was three. First, the top half of her body was linked directly to her lungs to get more oxygen into the blood.

The second operation repeated the process for the bottom half of her body.

Shannon's parents wrote aheartfelt letter to the Daily Record thanking her saviours.

Dougie and Janice could see their daughter had problems when she was born at Irvine's Ayrshire Central Hospital.

While her twin Michela was healthy, Shannon was a blue baby.

Dougie, 43, said: ``The scans showed nothing wrong and the twins were born at full term.

``But Shannon just kept going blue when she was born she was the colour of a pair of jeans.''

Within hours she was rushed to Yorkhill, where doctors diagnosed her rare condition. It affects only one in 100,000 children.

One chamber of her heart had also failed to form properly.

At just three days old, she had emergency surgery to replace the missing artery with a temporary tube. Over the years, she hadseveral exploratory ops, followed by the two which surgeons said ``re-plumbed'' her heart.

After the second operation, surgeon Trevor Richens said: ``I rebuilt and remodelled her heart.''

Before that, Shannon's body was getting 75 per cent of the oxygen she needed. That's now up to 95 per cent.

The days after Shannon's birth were tough on the couple, who have 10 children between them.

Dougie said: ``It was very distressing.

``We were told that if Shannon had been born a few years earlier, they wouldn't have had the technology to help her survive.''

After three months, Shannon was able to join her twin sister at home in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire.

Her mum and dad, who run amarket stall, knew she still faced major surgery at the age of three.

Dougie said: ``She was always a blue-grey colour and that operation did help to make her more pink.''

But Shannon still wasn't able to enjoy the things Michaela took for granted.

Dougie said: ``She didn't walk until she was three, she shuffled about on her backside as she didn't have the energy.

``Just before the most recent operation, we could see she was starting to go downhill.

``She would be getting out of puff after five steps. And when she was playing, the rests were getting longer.''

Shannon had the second part of her surgery on December 11.

Dougie said: ``She has never let the fact she has a heart condition hold her back and she takes theoperations in her stride. The night before she went to Yorkhill, she asked her mum, `This is the big operation, isn't it?' ``You just don't know what to say to her.''

Shannon's parents kept up a bedside vigil as their daughter battled for life in intensive care after the seven-hour op.

Dougie said: ``One day, we were told her lung had collapsed so they put a drain in to get rid of the fluid and re-inflate her lung.

``At the time, the doctors said it was a good thing fluid had not built up around her heart.

``Two days later, they had to put another drain in as the fluid had collected around her heart.

``She also took a small chest infection and had an infection in the wound in her chest. It was justso scary seeing her lying there with all the tubes in her.''

But last Monday, the family got the news they were hoping for Shannon was well enough to be moved out of intensive care.

Dougie said: ``For the first time in her life, she has pink nails and pink lips.

``She also has warm feet for the first time she must feel as if she is walking on hot coals.''

Surgeons say the operation should last Shannon 20 years but she may then need a heart transplant.

Dougie added: ``It is one of these things that we have to wait and see how it goes.''

The family are hoping Shannon, who was visited by panto stars Gerard Kelly and Elaine C Smith, will be able to leave hospital in a couple of weeks.

Hi there. Just a nice story for this time of year. At present our daughter Shannon is in I. T. U . in Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow. In the past 10 days she has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride as it seemed every thing which could go wrong post op did go wrong. We cried a lot, as did all herbrothers and sisters. However in the past few days she has picked up gradually and the good news is that she looks like being back up in Ward 5A for Santa coming. She is looking forward so much to Christmas, she is 5 years old. We however reckon we have had the best Christmas present we could ever wish for ``ou r wee Shanny''.

Dougie and Janice Withers

CAPTION(S):

OUR LITTLE STAR: Shannon recovers in Yorkhill Hospital yesterday with her mum Janice and dad Dougie by her bedside; ON THE MEND: Shannon with Yorkhill surgeon Trevor Richens; BOOST: Gerard Kelly and Elaine C Smith visit the youngster
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 24, 2003
Words:981
Previous Article:`Sickest tot in Britain' is home at last.
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