New charity launched in memory of Billie-Jo
A new charity has been set up in memory of a special baby girl who tragically died after a brave eight-month battle for life.
The Remember Billie-Jo Foundation has been established by Billie-Jo's mother Paula Woods to raise much needed funds for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Billie-Jo was born at just 27 weeks with a horrific catalogue of medical conditions. She weighed just one pound 11 ounces - lighter than a bag of sugar.
Paula, who lives in Antrim and has been a diabetic for 24 years, said her world came crashing down around her when doctors told her what they had discovered after her 22-week scan.
"They told me I could have a termination but I felt it was not my place to take Billie-Jo's life away. She was my baby and I was blessed to have her," she said.
Paula continued with her pregancy and Billie-Jo was born on August 11, 2008.
But Billie-Jo didn't just have one serious medical condition - she had an association of complications called VACTERL - with each letter representing a part of the body.
For example, the 'V' stands for vertebrae (Billie-Jo was born with a twist at the bottom of her spine); the 'C' stands for cardiac (her heart was turned towards the front of her tiny body and it had a hole in it); the 'R' stands for renal (she was born with one kidney) and the 'L' stands for limbs (she was born without a right foot and no radius on her left arm).
In addition, Billie-Jo was born without a left lung and her right lung was only a quarter of the size it should have been.
Paula said: "The love that a mother has for her baby is unconditional, so to me it didn't matter what way Billie-Jo was - I was going to love her anyway."
Tragically, Billie-Jo died at the age of just eight months after a courageous battle to cling to life.
Now, her mother has set up the Remember Billie-Jo Foundation in her memory to raise funds for the hospital and staff who offered her such dedicated care and compassion in those desperate days.
A sponsored parachute jump is being organised in aid of the Remember Billie-Jo Foundation this coming Sunday (October 3).
For further details about how you can help the charity, log on to the website www.rememberbilliejo.co.uk.
* To watch Paula Woods' interview in full click on to the video link above.