“I wish people could see past the birthmark and see what a wonderful little angel she is.”
This is the courageous youngster ʙᴀᴛᴛʟɪɴɢ ᴀ ʜᴜɢᴇ ʙɪʀᴛʜᴍᴀʀᴋ. A distinctive ʙɪʀᴛʜᴍᴀʀᴋ that covers Matilda Callaghan’s face and the right half of her body. However, brave Matilda, age 2, doesn’t allow the constant ʟᴀsᴇʀ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs to deter her from fighting.
The couple Paul, 45, and Rebecca, 41 from Leigh, Lancashire had no idea there was anything wrong with Matilda before she was born in October 2010, weighing a healthy 5Ib 5ozs. Callaghan’s pregnancy hadn’t’ been easy as there was too much ғʟᴜɪᴅ in her ᴀᴍɴɪᴏᴛɪᴄ sᴀᴄ, and the ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs decided to deliver the baby early.
When she was born she had a ᴅᴀʀᴋ ᴘᴜʀᴘʟᴇ ᴍᴀʀᴋ ᴅᴏᴡɴ the side of her face, which initially doctors thought was a ʙʀᴜɪsᴇ. But then half an hour later, they ʙʀᴏᴋᴇ the ᴅᴇᴠᴀsᴛᴀᴛɪɴɢ news to the couple that it was a ʙɪʀᴛʜᴍᴀʀᴋ. Two weeks later she was ᴅɪᴀɢɴᴏsᴇᴅ with a condition called Sᴛᴜʀɢᴇ Wᴇʙᴇʀ Sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ, a rare ɴᴇᴜʀᴏʟᴏɢɪᴄᴀʟ and sᴋɪɴ ᴅɪsᴏʀᴅᴇʀ. It ᴄᴀᴜsᴇs learning ᴅɪғғɪᴄᴜʟᴛɪᴇs, ᴘᴀʀᴀʟʏsɪs ᴀɴᴅ sᴇɪᴢᴜʀᴇs. Because she was sᴏ ɪʟʟ, Matilda was ʀᴜsʜᴇᴅ from Wigan Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ to Alder Hey Children’s Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ in Liverpool.
Paul said: ” We couldn’t travel with her as she was sᴏ ɪʟʟ. As we stood watching her being taken away, we didn’t know if we were going to see her again. We’d been so excited at our baby’s arrival, now within a matter of hours we didn’t know whether we would even see her ᴀʟɪᴠᴇ again.” But even from a day old, Matilda was a force to be reckoned with. She had also been born with two ʜᴏʟᴇs in her ʜᴇᴀʀᴛ, which was even more difficult for her sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟ. She managed to sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ her first surgery, and when she was two months old she went to the ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ theater again for surgery to ʀᴇᴘᴀɪʀ the ᴛᴡᴏ ʜᴏʟᴇs in her ʜᴇᴀʀᴛ
Paul said: ” We were ᴛᴇʀʀɪғɪᴇᴅ when she was ᴡʜᴇᴇʟᴇᴅ ᴅᴏᴡɴ for the surgery– even though she was two months old – she still looked sᴏ sᴍᴀʟʟ to be having such major surgery. Eventually the sᴜʀɢᴇᴏɴ came up to see us and told us the surgery had been successful. Matilda is absolutely amazing. Despite everything she has been through, she is still happy and she has a smile for everyone. She’s doing fantastically well.”
The doctors have said take Matilda’s ʙɪʀᴛʜᴍᴀʀᴋ may take 16 years of treatment for it to fade. She has recently started ʟᴀsᴇʀ treatment to stop carrying on growing as she gets odder.
Paul added:” Matilda has had more than 30 ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴs and is so brave. She is our little miracle. We wanted the best for her and to make her life easier. We never thought she would make it when she was first born so we have come a long way. The changes we have made to the house – especially the lift which has made a massive difference as she is getting heavier now – have all hopefully made Matilda’s life more comfortable.”