Thriving Evie an inspiration for all, says Birches family

HAVING had a tough start in life, 16-month-old Evie Latewood’s fight for fitness is the inspirational story behind a fundraising drive, in aid of the charities and hospitals that helped her survive.

Having been born on 24th April last year, along with her twin sister Katie, Evie’s Mum and Dad, Nathalie and Dyllan Latewood, who are origninally from Dungannon and Tamnamore, but now live in the Birches, and big brother Eli were expecting there to be issues surrounding Katie, a situation making Evie’s decline all the more shocking.

“We were expecting to have problems with Katie,” said Nathalie. Scans had shown she had cysts on her kidneys and we had been told she would be born with bilateral talipes, which is basically clubfoot. Thankfully, when she was born everything was sorted with some work with the physiotherapist.

“However, things didn’t go as was expected with Evie. For the first three weeks of her life she was in and out of Craigavon Area Hospital. She was a bit jaundice and we knew something was up.

“At the time we thought it might have been an allergy or something like that.

“However, nothing we were trying was working, so they sent us to Birmingham for tests.”

Evie spent three weeks in Birmingham and despite appearing happy and healthy, doctors were able to find the cause of the problem.

“The Doctors told us she may have a disease of the liver - biliary atresia” said Nathalie. “She underwent a procedure to link her liver to her intestine and everything went really well for a while.

“She was just six weeks old at this point and for about six months everything seemed to be going smoothly. Then it all went down hill again and she developed portal hypertension.

“The doctors has told us something like this was possible as a result of her biliary atresia. It doesn’t happen to everybody who undergoes this procedure but it is not unheard of. When it developed they were not sure how quickly it would progress, but it did so very very quickly and she started filling her nappy with black blood.

“She was brought into hospital at this point and despite treatment the bleeding continued.”

While the Doctors were not surprised that portal hypertension has occurred, what did startle them was the speed with which the condition progressed.

“She needed a blood transfusion in January and then started to vomit blood, that was terrifying,” said Nathalie. “However, we were in Craigavon Area Hospital at the time so they were able to deal with it.

“They flew us over to Birmingham in the air ambulance three or four times as a result of the continual blood loss. It was while we were here that they discovered just how rapidly the portal hypertension had progressed and that’s when they told us a liver transplant was our only option.

“My husband put himself forward to be her donor but thankfully a liver was provided before he needed to, on Dyllan’s birthday - it was like it was meant to be.”

“We were allowed to stay with her while she waited for theatre, she had a room to herself. She was taken to theatre at 1am and we didn’t hear anything until 7.45am.

“We were quite lucky that it was overnight, and we actually managed to get some sleep as the staff told us they wouldn’t contact unless they needed to.

“Thankfully the operation was a success and Evie has been a happy healthy toddler ever since.”

Having gone through such trauma and come out the other side with such success, Nathalie and Dylan are determined to give back to those who gave their daughter her life.

They have launched a fundraising drive to raise £6,000 to be split between Blossom Children’s Ward at Craigavon Area Hospital, the specialist liver ward and Ronald McDonald House, both in Birmingham and the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.

“We would love to say thank-you to everyone for all their support, so many people have been praying for us. Even people we don’t know, everyone has been so kind. Evie has touched a lot of people’s hearts and to think of where we were and where we are now is just amazing.”

To donate to Nathalie and Dyllan’s fundraiser visit www.gofundme.

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