A ‘miracle baby’ born with part of her brain outside her head has defied the odds to survive.
Baby Alana Long, of Clayton-le-Moors, was born with encephalocele, a rare birth defect in which causes parts of the brain protrude outside the skull.
Doctors had told parents Catherine, 38, and Mark, 45, a customer services advisor, that Alana was likely to die in the womb or shortly after birth, but against all predictions she has survived and is due to celebrate her first birthday on March 5.
Her mother Catherine, a part-time supermarket worker, said the couple were sure they wanted to give her a chance at life.
She said: “It was a shock but we looked the condition up and considered our options and decided we definitely still wanted her.
“The doctors told us she’d die in uteri or soon after she was born, but we were optimistic that she’d survive.”
The couple, of Reed Street, are not sure if Alana will be able to walk or talk, and doctors have advised them just to take it one day at a time.
Catherine said: “We’re so lucky to have her. She is a gorgeous child, she does smile and she has just started making little sounds, but she doesn’t cry at all. It’s a start, which is something we never thought we would have.
“To me it doesn’t matter that she’s disabled, she’s my little girl and I love her.”
Immediately after Alana was born she was rushed into a specialist ward to prepare to undergo surgery to remove the encephalocele.
Catherine said: “I didn’t get to see her for the first 24 hours as I had had a caesarean section.
“My only thought was, ‘is she breathing?’ because I wanted to know if she was still alive.”
The growth was removed when Alana was eight days old, and after that Catherine said she was like any other baby.
“It became normal to see her with it, even though it looked like an extra head. But once it was gone she was just like any other child in the ward.”
Alana’s sister Emily, six, was born three months’ premature.
Catherine said they are not expecting Alana to miraculously recover.
She added: “She’s severely visually impaired and physically and mentally disabled.
“She is undergoing physio and speech therapy but we are not expecting great miracles.
“I have two miracles already, that’s having my first daughter and my second daughter and they are both here against the odds.”