An expectant mum is hoping to raise awareness of a rare disease which has given her unborn daughter a 15 per cent chance of survival.
Mandy Dell, 22, from the Samuel Lewis Trust Estate in Fulham, is due to give birth to her first child in two weeks.
Unlike most first-time mums, she is facing a tough time ahead, as the unborn baby was diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) at 30 weeks. Children with the condition can suffer severe breathing difficulties as well as problems with their heart and kidneys and spinal cord defects can cause spina bifida.
Mandy Dell and partner Phil Smith know they are having a girl and have chosen to call the baby Sienna. She was offered a termination at the time of diagnosis and again just a week ago, but has chosen to give her unborn daughter the chance to live.
Mandy said: "I found out very late on in the pregnancy that there was something seriously wrong with my baby girl. At 20 weeks, the doctors saw in a scan that her heart was on the wrong side of her body but otherwise she was healthy and functioning. But by the 28-week scan, they realised that this was because she had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which meant that her liver and other organs were being pushed up into her heart and lung cavity.
“At this stage, the doctors offered me a termination, as Sienna has a bad case of this condition but I just could not take the opportunity to fight and live, away from her. I will be induced in just two weeks, and we have been told she has a 15 per cent chance of survival, but we won’t give up hope."
She added: "I am just so desperate now to raise awareness of this little-known disease, as money is needed for research into new procedures. It’s a coping mechanism I suppose. And the run up to Christmas is helping to take my mind of what is ahead."
Mandy is being supported by her old school friend Laura Greenyer, whom she knew from Fulham Cross School and who owns the Fulham and Chelsea Cake Company. Laura has launched a fundraising drive to raise money for CDH UK, a national charity which supports parents of children born with the condition.
Laura said: “So I have organised an event with local bands, food and drink and a fantastic raffle. Local businesses are providing the food and hairdressers such as La Durbin Boutique and Blow Out are donating hair appointments for some of the raffle prizes. The local community has really come together. as Mandy and her family are so well known and loved in the area.”
One in 2,500 babies are born with CDH in the UK each year. For more information about the charity, visit www.cdhuk.org.uk .
The fundraising is on Saturday, March 8, at the Hammersmith Club, Rutland Grove. Tickets are £10 and include food and drink.