London - A defiant mother who was told 14 times to abort her unborn baby has brought home a healthy young girl.
Kiera Meldrum was given the advice every week after doctors discovered the child had a rare bowel disorder at her 21-week scan.
But she refused to listen and her determination paid off when she went into labour six weeks early and gave birth to Lillee-Rose.
The tiny baby was taken away for emergency surgery minutes after birth but, after a further operation and eight weeks in hospital, mother and child were allowed home.
Six months on Lillee-Rose is thriving and, although her bowel remains delicate, doctors expect her to grow stronger and do not anticipate serious problems in future.
Meldrum, 20, who had suffered four previous miscarriages, said: "I refused to terminate Lillee-Rose every time they told me to, and I’m so happy I listened to my heart instead of the doctors. When I went into labour, I was terrified of losing her and watching them whisk her from me straight away and into surgery broke my heart.
"I always had a feeling that she’d be okay, and seeing her grow up healthy and strong just goes to show that a mother always knows best. She’s my little miracle."
The unborn baby was diagnosed with severe ascites at the 21-week scan – a condition where fluid builds up in the stomach lining. Meldrum was advised to terminate the pregnancy immediately.
"I felt sick when they told me she wasn’t well but I just knew my little girl was a fighter and that she could make it," she said. "There was no way I was terminating my pregnancy – I’d waited so long to become a mum."
Scans were carried out every week from then on and at each she was told to terminate – including at 28 weeks when doctors found that the baby’s bowel had ruptured.
Complications in the pregnancy also caused Meldrum’s stomach to swell from a build-up of amniotic fluid.
But despite being in constant pain she also rejected advice to drain her stomach as it could have harmed the baby. Meldrum, of York, said: "It felt like I was carrying a giant painful water balloon against my tummy but, after being told how poorly my baby was, I couldn’t do anything risky."
In the end Lillee-Rose was born half an hour after Meldrum arrived at York Hospital on February 26. She weighed 4lb 3oz (about 1.8kg). The sound of her baby’s first cry felt like a ‘huge wave of relief and emotion’, she said. "They handed me Lillee-Rose and she was just the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen."
Lillee-Rose was transferred to Leeds for specialist surgery on a split bowel and a further operation at six weeks old. Her condition is so rare doctors are writing research papers on her case.
Dr Kelly Cohen, a consultant at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: "We are very happy to hear Lillee-Rose is doing well." Commenting on the doctors’ decision to advise Meldrum to have an abortion, she said: "It is our responsibility to ensure all our patients are given accurate information about possible outcomes and the range of options available to them."