'Miracle' Antrim girl Cora keeps on defying odds
A terminally ill girl who began experiencing brain failure more than two years ago has defied doctors' expectations to celebrate another Christmas with her family.
"Medical miracle" Cora McQuade-Denvir (9), from Carnlough in Co Antrim, is confined to a wheelchair and suffers from a variety of conditions including blindness, hydrocephalus, epilepsy, dystonia, cerebral palsy and scoliosis.
In November 2015 doctors told her parents that she was experiencing brain failure and could pass away at any time.
In August 2016 Cora's family pulled out all the stops to celebrate what they believed would be her last birthday with a special Disney Princess-themed bash.
The family compiled a bucket list of experiences to enjoy together, including meeting Cora's favourite band, Little Mix.
But medics then told Cora's devastated parents to enjoy Christmas with their little girl as they "probably wouldn't get another" with her.
Last year the community rallied round to support the family's Christmas decoration appeal to make what they thought would be her last Christmas extra special.
However, Cora, who the family refer to as their "princess warrior", has once again defied doctors' expectations to celebrate Christmas 2017 with her family.
"When Cora was born at 28 weeks she just had the outer cortex of her brain and nothing inside - it's just fluid," her devoted dad Ciaran (31), who cares for Cora with her mum Amy (29), told the Belfast Telegraph.
"She was born early and her brain rewired, so some parts of it are doing things they wouldn't normally be able to.
"She's a medical miracle.She shouldn't even be able to breathe, and, while she is registered blind, she seems to be able to detect some changes like lights on the Christmas tree or a shadow caused by someone passing in front of a window.
"We have put a Christmas tree in her room to stimulate her.When she hears music, especially Little Mix, she starts to move around and make noises, and she loves her videos of Disney princesses.
"Last year we thought it might be her last Christmas, but now we have learned not to underestimate her.
"Even the consultants are surprised at her fighting spirit. She's definitely a fighter."
While Cora's condition will never improve, Ciaran said she continued to amaze her family with her determination to survive.
"She has been such an inspiration to her whole family," he added.
"People complain about wee colds, but I learned from Cora that things could be worse.
"I'm so proud that she has been able to stay with us for this long.
"We spent this Christmas with my sister for the first time in years and Cora was able to be with her wee cousins.
"Last year I hadn't given up on her, but I had a strange feeling that she wasn't going to be here for much longer.
"I feel a bit more positive this year."
Due to her medical conditions, Cora has been unable to attend school for the past year. However, her parents are hoping that she will be able to rejoin her classmates at Larne's Roddensvale Special School in the new year.
The family are now praying that her condition will remain stable so that they can spend as much time together as possible.
"We don't know how long Cora has, and she has been getting more sleepy for a long while now," Ciaran explained.
"We are just praying that she stays stable for as long as possible. We are so proud of Cora. Every minute that we spend together is precious."