Air ambulance Bella's only hope if she's to take part in crucial English medical trial
The distraught mother of a seriously ill baby girl says time is running out for her tiny daughter who urgently needs to travel to England by air ambulance for treatment.
Judith Lowry, from Bangor, is speaking publicly to highlight her six-month-old daughter Bella's plight and to back the campaign for an air ambulance for Northern Ireland in memory of Flying Doctor John Hinds, who died in a motorcycle crash in July.
Medical sales rep Judith (33) and her Autoglym sales rep husband David were thrilled to welcome their third child into the world earlier this year.
Bella was born at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald on April 3 and for the first 12 weeks of her life the couple and their two sons Harrison (6) and Joseph (4) were "blissfully unaware" anything was wrong with the beautiful baby girl.
By 16 weeks Bella still wasn't progressing as expected so was referred to paediatrics at the Ulster Hospital.
"Our world collapsed on July 31," an emotional Judith said.
Bella was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that causes muscle weakness and progressive loss of movement.
"It means the right messages aren't going from her spinal cord to her muscles so they can't move the way normal people's muscles move," Judith explained.
"There is no treatment available.
"I still don't know how you respond to it.
"You have to get up everyday and carry on for the boys.
"We are trying to get her enrolled in a clinical trial in Newcastle Upon Tyne."
Judith has been based at the Ulster Hospital with Bella for the last month.
The couple's sons understand some of what is happening to their little sister but it is difficult for them as it's "a big contrast from all of me to none of me", Judith explained.
"They don't know the full extent but they are accepting she will never walk and that," she added.
"They are wonderful. They say about teaching her things from home.
Bella cannot get clearance to board a commercial flight and could not withstand a car and boat journey to England for a medical trial that could prolong her life.
"The only real option is to go by air ambulance," Judith said.
"An air ambulance is her only fighting chance.
"It is the only chance Bella has got."
There is an added complication that Bella has a virus at the moment so getting an air ambulance is not the only hurdle.
"She is dependent on oxygen so we need to get her off that to be accepted for the trial," Judith said.
"We have two weeks. We are under pressure to get her better and get her there."
You can donate to help back the campaign here
Mental abilities are unaffected by SMA. The term spinal muscular atrophy can be applied to a number of different related conditions.
If you can help the Lowry family search Bella Lowry on Go Fund Me and Facebook.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease that causes muscle weakness and loss of movement.
SMA is caused by deterioration in the nerve cells connecting the brain and spinal cord to the body's muscles.
As the link between the nerves and muscles breaks down, the muscles become progressively weaker and shrink (atrophy).