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Lily's now in the pink but we came so close to losing our precious baby!; AGONY OF `IT AIN'T HALF HOT' STAR AND HIS WIFE AFTER THEIR LITTLE GIRL FALLS INTO A COMA.

Comedy star Melvyn Hayes cradled his beautiful baby girl in his arms and whispered: "We are so lucky to have you." For two-month-old Lily almost died from a rare form of diabetes when she was barely a week old.

Melvyn, who turned camp bombadier "Gloria" Beaumont of TV's It Ain't Half Hot Mum into a household name, gently brushed his cheek against Lily's face and said: "We lived at the hospital for three weeks, sleeping by her cot. There were days when we feared the worst and with every test they did our nightmare worsened.

"We put our faith in God and the doctors and between them they worked a miracle."

Angel-faced Lily lapsed into a coma at eight days old and was rushed to Ipswich General Hospital suffering from severe dehydration as a result of a condition which hits just one child in a million.

Tears welled in mum Jayne's eyes as she said: "We nearly lost her to a condition that neither of us had ever heard of.

"It's only now when I see how healthy she is that I realise how poorly she was then."

Lily is just one of two babies currently being treated in Britain for diabetes insipidus - where the kidneys fail to retain water.

Jayne, 34, said: "It's not like sugar diabetes at all. Without the hormone, fluid just passes right through Lily and she dehydrates."

When Melvyn and Jayne asked doctors to explain what Lily was going through they were told to imagine eating a plateful of salty bacon and then eating a cup of salt after that.

"Because Lily wasn't able to hold on to water she had this raging thirst and that's how she was feeling all the time," said Jayne.

Melvyn, 61, who has five children from two previous marriages, said: "I think I just took it for granted that Lily would be born a healthy baby.

"You never imagine for a moment that it is your new-born child who will be taken ill and may never recover."

Jayne revealed how the couple's joy turned to anguish when Lily's health deteriorated for no apparent reason.

Jayne, who runs The Bull pub at Brantham, Suffolk, with Melvyn said: "I had a trouble-free pregnancy - in fact, I sailed right through it and worked until two days before I gave birth.

"I had a 15-hour labour and because Lily was facing the wrong way, she was a forceps delivery.

"But she was a healthy little girl and everything seemed too good to be true.

"I breast-fed her and although she seemed a hungry baby for the first few days we were all on cloud nine - it was bliss."

Just eight days after her birth on October 22 the weight just fell off Lily and she seemed constantly hungry.

Jayne said: "There were times when I was breast-feeding for four hours at a time.

"She weighed 612lb when she was born and suddenly went down to 512 lb. The soft spot on her head sank in and I spoke to medical experts about my worries.

"But I was told breast-fed babies often feed for a long time and that babies always lost weight before they gained it. Lily is my first baby and I should have trusted my maternal instincts but I thought the experts knew best."

It was experienced dad Melvyn who convinced Jayne that her fears were right.

"I knew we had to get the baby to hospital pretty quickly," he said.

"She went downhill very fast and lapsed into a coma. We rushed her to hospital and the nightmare began."

Jayne said: "When they put my baby down on stark, white hospital sheets under bright lights it suddenly dawned on me how awful she looked.

"She looked grey and the skin was just hanging off her. Just a week before she had been a plump, happy baby.

"Now she was just motionless. I didn't know what to do. When they started to fill her body with drips and tubes I just wanted to scream, `why?'

"She looked so frail and vulnerable. I really wanted to change places with her and take on her suffering."

Melvyn recalled how the next three weeks were a blur of tests, brain scans and the unspoken fear that their baby had a tumour.

The veteran actor who starred with Cliff Richard in the sixties film Summer Holiday, said: "We were terrified. They wanted to test her eyes and they did so many brain scans. We feared the absolute worst." Jayne added: "As they did each test we just thought, if it's cancer, we'll cope. If her eyes fail her, we'll manage - but please, please, let her live."

As bright-eyed Lily gazed at her besotted parents, Melvyn said: "When the tests showed no trace of a tumour we felt a tremendous sense of relief.

"When they discovered it was a very rare form of diabetes it took some time for us to realise what it all meant.

"At first we assumed they meant sugar diabetes and we thought, `oh God, our baby will have to have injections'. Then we were told she would just need a spray and it was like all three of us had been given our lives back."

Jayne said: "While Lily was in hospital I must have been awful to live with. Melvyn was wonderful and supportive throughout.

"But my emotions swung from one extreme to another. I went from accepting it to feeling suicidal. I blamed myself for her problem.

"I was convinced I had done something wrong during my pregnancy or that my breast milk had affected her.

"I also went through a phase where I didn't want to touch or bond with Lily while she was in hospital.

"I was so scared we were going to lose her that I felt I couldn't get too close. I have never been so scared or felt so helpless."

Lily needs regular medication and her feeds are timed to the last second to ensure she does not dehydrate - or retain so much fluid that she gets water on the brain.

Until a few days ago, Melvyn and Jayne even had to weigh her wet nappies so doctors could work out how much water she was losing.

Melvyn gives her two daily doses of the anti-diuretic hormone which keeps her condition under control.

He said: "I use a small tube to blow the medicine up her nose while she is sleeping. She doesn't seem bothered by it. She just wiggles her nose and carries on sleeping.

"We know Lily will have to take this hormone forever but what a small price to pay for her life."

Melvyn and Jayne married in 1988 after meeting on a tour of the stage play The Dresser.

Jayne is just a year older than Melvyn's eldest daughter Sacha.

But neither had planned on starting a family and little Lily took them both by surprise. Jayne calls her "our happy accident".

Lily, who now weighs 912lb, looks a picture of health.

Melvyn joked: "She's now Lily the pink!

"But seriously, not a day goes by when we don't remember what she has been through.

"Thankfully she won't have any memories of it but they will haunt us for ever."

If you would like more information on diabetes insipidus, you can call the Pituitary Foundation on 01454 201612.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Sayid, Ruki
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 29, 1996
Words:1228
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