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Brave Charlotte celebrates fifth birthday against all odds

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

But the Teesside tot has just celebrated her fifth birthday after re-writing all the rules.

The happy little girl - nicknamed Lottie by family and friends - is unique in the world.

No child with her rare chromosome disorder Patau Syndrome has ever lived so healthily for so long.

When she was born, doctors told mum and dad, Christie and Patrick, their longed-for baby daughter would be lucky to survive.

"Take her home, we can`t do anything more," was the heartbreak news for the family who live in Eston.

Lottie`s life hung by so fragile a thread, she was immediately christened in a late-night ceremony by the priest who had married her parents.

And when she beat the odds to reach her three month milestone, her family marked the `Birthday` with a triumphant announcement in the Evening Gazette.

"I cried so much for those months, I thought I`d never cry again," said Christie, 27.

"Every time I fed or dressed her, I thought it would be the last time.

"It was so hard because we never gave up on Lottie. We wanted her to stay with us forever from the moment she was born."

As time went by, Christie and Patrick forced themselves to live for the day to give Lottie as normal a life as possible.

"It is hard and we don`t always succeed, but we try not to think about the future because it is too frightening," said 42 year-old Patrick.

"There was no chance we would ever give up on Lottie. We loved her always and have dedicated time and energy to looking after her."

Lottie was born on July 19, 2003, weighing 5lb 13½oz. "It was a dream pregnancy," remembered Christie. "It wasn`t until her heart started to slow we knew anything was wrong."

As soon as she was born, her parents saw a cut round the top of her head which was a typical sign of the syndrome`s brain damage.

Christie and Patrick, a plumber, who were married at St Patrick`s RC Church in his native Hartlepool, have sons two year-old Luke and Matthew, six, who goes to St Gabriel`s in Ormesby.

"We are so lucky to have three lovely children and family and friends who have been so wonderful," said Christie.

Since Lottie was born, she and Patrick have searched the web for every scrap of information about Patau Syndrome, a severe chromosomal abnormality

Up to 90% of babies do not survive infancy and those who do have severe developmental and learning disabilities.

Some have health problems with their hearts or eyes, but Lottie is fit, healthy and strong.

The Teesside Genetics Unit have confirmed that the faulty gene is random and not carried by either family.

Recently a neurologist was so happy with her progress he said Lottie could live into her 20s.

"We were absolutely thrilled to hear we would have our gorgeous girl for so long," said Christie. "Some people might not want that, but for us and our family it was great news. We had a big party to celebrate.

"We found it hard to believe nothing could be done for Lottie so we just did what we could to keep her healthy. We always felt there had to be hope and despite the negative attitude of the medical people, we were determined to stay positive.

"I suppose in the end, we wanted to prove them wrong and keep Lottie with us.

"It`s not been easy and we have had to pick each other up, but we both feel the same about Lottie and the battle has made us stronger."

Patrick insisted: "I think we know more than the doctors do about Lottie`s condition.

"We have been on a total rollercoaster for the past five years, but have learned not to dwell on things. Lottie is totally unique. She is a strong little girl who can crawl everywhere, climb into the bath and can do forward roly-poly rolls."

She is now loving every minute at Kilton Thorpe School at Brotton. "I can tell because she`s giggling happily when the bus picks her up - and giggling when she comes home," said Christie.

"Everyone knows and loves Lottie. She is such a happy little girl and totally unique. Her brothers have always been so good with her and now she is at school I`m able to give them so much more time."

© 2008 owned by or licensed to Gazette Media Company Limited

Author: Barbara Argument
Source: Evening Gazette
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