Brave Midlothian toddler defies fatal brain damage diagnosis as family fundraise for 'Chloe's Big Build'
A Midlothian mum is raising life-changing funds for her seriously ill daughter to make their home more accessible for her disabilities. Mother of three Mechelle O’Hara set up a fundraiser alongside dad Scott Thomson after seeing no other option to build an extension on their family home in Bilston to accommodate their three-year-old daughter Chloe.
Born 12 weeks premature at the end of September 2019, Chloe was diagnosed with meningitis and sepsis just a few days after being born. After 11 days, her health deteriorated as the doctors discovered she had a deadly cyst that was filled with fluid blocking her airway.
Chloe’s mother, Mechelle said: “I don’t think I stopped crying for days, it was just awful. They were telling you the worst thing you can hear as a parent and saying there was a good chance you will never take her home and if you do she will be severely disabled."
This resulted in her left lung being overinflated due to trapped air, which put pressure on her heart and right lung. While Chloe required urgent surgery, she only weighed three pounds so the doctors were unable to go through with the required procedure. Instead, the two-week-old baby had two consecutive rounds of laser surgery to clear her airway.
Once Chloe was seven weeks old, she had reached five pounds and was able to have open surgery where a heart and lung bypass was performed. The surgeons could only partially remove the cyst as parts of it were attached to her airway and fully removing it would have ended her life.
Chloe was put on life support and her parents were informed she would need reconstructive surgery on her lungs. An MRI was also carried out where Chloe was diagnosed with severe brain damage. From then, Chloe and her family were sent back to Edinburgh where she was put in palliative care as the doctors expected the brain damage to be fatal. However, the wee fighter is still here today.
Mechelle said: “Chloe is the most smiley, cheeky little girl who loves music and lots of cuddles. If she’s not smiling then we know that something must be wrong and she’s in serious pain as she is always a very happy child. As a parent I do feel guilty as I see other kids developing and getting to experience the little things in life that she can't do. Things as simple as her having all these toys that she can’t play with, or eating food herself is just so difficult to watch.”
Three years later, Chloe now relies on her mother to care for her 24 hours a day as she cannot hold her head up, move, drink or eat independently as well as visual impairments. Now Chloe suffers with severe Cerebral Palsy which has impacted her whole body, resulting in the courageous young girl having no muscle tone to support herself. The young warrior attempts to go to nursery four times a week, where the staff have completely adapted to Chloe’s tube feeding requirements and the children have welcomed her in with open arms.
Mechelle said: “The children at nursery are amazing with Chloe, they hold her hand, and sing to her when she’s upset. It’s so lovely to see.” Chloe relies on both a standing frame for her posture development and her parents for mobility around the house. The family’s house is crammed with various mechanisms used to support Chloe in everyday activities.
Simple tasks, such as bathing Chloe have become increasingly hard as she has gotten older. Mechelle said: “I dread bathing Chloe now as the bathroom is upstairs meaning I have to carry her, which is alright, but she’s getting bigger now and I have to rely on a special bath seat for her and wash her with the shower head. It’s just so impractical. We need a special wet-room for her with a hoist for Chloe as she gets older, but our home will need an extension to allow us to do this.”
The family have set up a GoFundMe page where they aim to raise £10,000 to put towards building the extension downstairs with enough space for all Chloe’s essential medical equipment, a wet-room and a bedroom.