Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Doctors baffled as 'miracle baby' gets Down Syndrome all-clear

New mum Helen Kavanagh has revealed how her "miracle baby" who was born with leukaemia and the Down syndrome chromosome has now been given the all-clear.

Little Clara weighed in at 1.14kg -- around the size of a bag of sugar -- when she was born early at 28 weeks on August 7, 2012.

Her twin, Pippa, who had both leukaemia and Down Syndrome, did not survive.

Ms Kavanagh (42), from Ratoath, Co Meath, told how doctors at Dublin's Rotunda hospital then discovered Clara too had leukaemia and also tested positive for the trisomy 21 chromosome -- associated with Down Syndrome -- and immediately moved her to the neo-natal intensive care unit.

"They weren't giving her much hope and didn't expect her to survive and were taking it hour by hour," the new mother explained. "They compiled consultants to look at her case as it was so unique," she added.

They delivered a dose of medicine at just two days old to attack the leukaemia cells and gradually she began to put on weight.

They treated her for many of the problems linked to premature births, including laser eye surgery and an operation to repair a hole in the heart.

In November, and again in February, they carried out genetic tests to track the leukaemia and the trisomy 21.

"The leukaemia proved totally transient. It had left her body but normally the baby would be left with Down Syndrome. But that gene left her body as well. The geneticist rang me about her case. From a genetics point of view they are still investigating Clara and Pippa's story," Ms Kavanagh explained.

"They are trying to figure out how she got the Down Syndrome and the leukaemia and now she doesn't have it."

After spending 91 days in the ICU, they took her home.

"She is almost 20 pounds and meeting all her milestones. She is doing really well and we are really lucky.

"It is very hard to believe for people who have seen her," said Ms Kavanagh, who always believed she would survive. "She is perfect and happy."

Ms Kavanagh will be one of the many parents out supporting the Irish Premature Babies motorbike road challenge later this week to raise money for vital life-saving equipment in neo-natal intensive-care units.

Motorbike riders will be visiting units throughout the country from April 25 until April 28.

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