‘Miracle’ baby defies the odds to become happy four-year-old despite mother being told he had 5% chance of survival after he was born with his organs outside his body
- Lauren Staines, 27, from Hook, was told her first child had gastroschisis at scan
- Condition sees organs develop on the outside of the body during pregnancy
- Doctors warned the expectant mother the odds of Max surviving birth were 5%
A miracle tot who was told he had just a five per cent chance of surviving after he was born inside out has finally been discharged from the care of the hospital which saved him.
Single mother Lauren Staines, 27, from Hook, was told her first child had gastroschisis, a condition where the organs develop on the outside of the body during pregnancy, at her 12 week scan.
Medics warned the expectant mum that the odds of Max surviving the birth were just five per cent and Lauren was even offered an abortion.
However Max, who was born with his stomach, liver and bowels on the outside of his body, defied doctors predictions at every turn and was finally discharged from St George’s Hospital in central London in June – after four years of regular appointments since his life-saving surgery at birth.
A miracle tot whose mother was told he had just a five per cent chance of surviving after he was born inside out has finally been discharged from the care of the hospital which saved him
Single mother Lauren Staines, 27, from Hook, was told her first child had gastroschisis, a condition where the organs develop on the outside of the body during pregnancy, at her 12 week scan
Recalling her pregnancy, Lauren said: ‘We’d been in a relationship for a couple of years but Max’s dad didn’t want to have a baby so I decided to go ahead with the pregnancy on my own.
‘When I went for my first ultrasound scan at 12 weeks, the lady was looking at the screen for ages and then said she wanted to get someone to check something.
‘I could see from on the look on her face that something was wrong.
‘When she came back, they told me that they believed his organs were on the outside of his body, that it was very rare and they didn’t really know what they were looking at so they referred me to another hospital.
Max, who was born with his stomach, liver and bowels on the outside of his body, defied doctors predictions at every turn
The four-year-old was finally discharged from St George’s Hospital in central London in June – after four years of regular appointments since his life-saving surgery at birth
‘They gave me some general information on a printout and just said it was a five per cent chance of survival.
‘Two or three days later I went to St George’s and they confirmed it was gastroschisis straight away, but it was too early to tell which of his organs were on the outside.’
At 20 weeks pregnant in January 2016, doctors confirmed both Max’s liver and bowels were outside of his body, but were unable to determine how damaged they would be from fluid in the amniotic sack until he was born.
Despite the devastating odds, Lauren enjoyed a successful pregnancy with no cramps, sickness or tiredness, but was growing increasingly concerned that with every week that passed, Max’s organs were becoming more damaged.
After Max was born, Lauren didn’t get to meet her son for nine hours as doctors desperately fought to save his life
The mother-of-one was told about her son’s condition during pregnancy, with medics warning he had just five per cent chance of survival
After the emergency surgery, Max had to be fitted with a long line to give his body the nutrients he wouldn’t be able to get until his stomach could digest food
Expert surgeons at St George’s had put together a full birth plan, but in April that year, the expectant mum was thrown into action when she realised her usually active baby hadn’t moved or kicked all day and decided to go to the local hospital to check nothing untoward was happening.
Max’s heart rate had dropped and doctors decided to perform an emergency c-section, transferring the newborn straight to St George’s for a six-hour operation to package his exposed stomach, liver and bowels, back inside his body.
Lauren, added: ‘When he was born the nurse asked me if I wanted to look at him and I hesitated.
‘She said ‘right too late’ he’s going to have to go and he was transferred to St George’s before I’d even seen him.
Doctors fed Max through a tube, while they also drained the remaining fluid from around his organs with an NG tube
Despite predictions he would need to stay in hospital for six months, the defiant tot made rapid progression
After leaving hospital three weeks after his birth, Max has been in and out of treatment for the first four years of his life
‘I couldn’t go with him because they wanted me to be able to stand up on my own before I was transferred as well.
‘I didn’t get to meet him for nine hours after he was born, and when I got to St George’s his surgeon said ‘it’s a lot worse than we had anticipated’.
‘But when he came back out after the operation, he had a huge smile on his face and looked at me and said ‘we managed to do a full closure’.’
After the emergency surgery, Max had to be fitted with a long line to give his body the nutrients he wouldn’t be able to get until his stomach could digest food, and doctors had to drain the remaining fluid from around his organs with an NG tube.
Since then Max has been under the close watch of medics at St George’s with regular appointments
Lauren considers her four-year-old son her ‘miracle baby’ after he defied the odds in his battle to stay alive
But despite predictions he would need to stay in hospital for six months, the defiant tot made rapid progression, and within three weeks was on his mum’s milk and was able to be sent home.
Since then Max has been under the close watch of medics at St George’s with regular appointments and talks of fitting him with a colostomy bag to manage the fact he was unable to tell when he needed the toilet due to his shortened bowel.
But in another miraculous turn, the youngster suddenly realised his own toilet cues in January this year and was able to go into ‘big boy pants’ overnight.
Meanwhile she said her son had ‘worked bloody hard’ to get through his challenging start in life and ‘fought so hard’
While there were talks of fitting Max with a colostomy bag to manage the fact he was unable to tell when he needed the toilet due to his shortened bowel, the youngster has since realised his own toilet cues
Lauren explained: ‘Every single day I look at him and think you are my miracle.
‘Everybody calls him my ‘miracle baby’ but at the same time we worked bloody hard to get him through this and he fought so hard as well.
‘I look back at pictures and realise how far we have come from being absolutely terrified of being a single mum and worrying that I was going to leave hospital without a baby at all to being as happy as we are now.
She revealed learning her son was being discharged was the ‘perfect piece of the puzzle towards’ their happy ending
‘When we were told that he was going to be discharged, it was the perfect piece of the puzzle towards our happy ending.’
Lauren is now speaking out to raise awareness for other parents in similar situations and to offer hope.
She said: ‘It’s always going to be something that he lives with, we still always need to be careful but he is not a sick baby anymore.’
What is gastroschisis?
Gastroschisis is a type of abdominal wall defect. It occurs when a child’s abdomen does not develop fully while in the womb.
Early in all pregnancies, the intestine develops inside the umbilical cord and then usually moves inside the abdomen a few weeks later.
In gastroschisis, the abdominal wall does not form completely so the intestines develop outside and are open to the air when the child is born.
Gastroschisis is immediately recognisable because the child’s intestines are outside of the abdomen. Some areas of the intestines may look darker as they have been in contact with the amniotic fluid inside the womb, which can damage them. The umbilical cord is visible but pushed to the side by the exposed intestines.
Gastroschisis is a serious condition so needs prompt treatment soon after birth.
Immediately after birth, doctors will wrap the exposed intestines in a type of ‘cling film’ which reduces the amount of fluids and body heat lost, protects the intestines from further damage and also allows staff to monitor them closely.
Once stable, the child will have an operation under general anaesthetic to put the intestines back inside the abdomen and close up the abdominal wall. Sometimes this needs to be done in stages, replacing the intestines a bit at a time until they can all be contained within the abdomen.
Occasionally, children have treatment for gastroschisis in the intensive care unit. This involves placing a ready-made mesh sac over the intestines so that are contained and moved back into the abdomen. The sac is put in place on the intensive care unit without anaesthetic but with pain relief. This sac is then suspended above the child so that gravity gradually moves the intestines back inside the abdomen. It is tightened regularly until all the intestine is inside the abdomen, which usually takes a few days.
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