Phoebe Campbell, from Warrington, was born with a brain swelling just over a year ago and doctors gave mum Megan Taylor a ‘bleak outlook’ – but when she was born she seemed to be doing fine
Image: Megan Taylor)
A worried mum said she ‘knew something was wrong’ with her little daughter when they came back home from a family holiday.
Phoebe Campbell was born with hydrocephalus just over a year ago, a build-up of fluid in the brain which can cause pressure.
Doctors gave mum Megan Taylor a ‘bleak outlook’ but when she was born she seemed “absolutely fine”.
Megan, from Warrington, Cheshire, told the Liverpool Echo : “When she was born it could be a bleak outlook. Every pregnancy scan we were told she wouldn’t be able to do anything if she survived.
“When she was born she was absolutely fine. But in December last year at her first revision we found out a valve in her brain wasn’t working so there was a build up of fluid.
“Her brain was producing too much fluid so we needed a shunt to take it away and remove it. Otherwise it would just sit in her brain and build up too much pressure.”
After nearly a year of no further problems, the 14-month-old’s condition worsened again just two weeks after her first birthday.
The family had been away on holiday but when they returned mum Megan knew something was wrong.
Phoebe had a new shunt installed but just weeks later was back in Alder Hey after it failed.
Megan said: “It’s always the same symptoms — she gets a bit irritable and the soft spot on her head starts bulging because of the fluid build up.
“She was becoming violently sick so I took her in straight away where she had to have surgery.”
The neurosurgeons told Megan and dad Andrew that Phoebe would have to have an external ventricular drain to remove excess fluid.
The family were told it’s not uncommon for the valve to fail so if Phoebe recovered normally with no infection, they could just put it down to a valve failure.
Megan added: “If you think about it, it’s a foreign device in a baby’s body and she’s quite small anyway.
“It’s quite hard to get right, so we’re always prepared for a failure.”
Phoebe was in surgery for four hours before remaining in hospital for nearly nine days where samples were taken to ensure there was no infection.
The surgeons found no infection so fitted Phoebe with a new tube from her brain into her stomach before heading home to be with family for Christmas.
Mum Megan said that, after getting the all clear Phoebe will be “absolutely spoilt” by her family, with lots of cake and custard.
Megan proudly adds Phoebe is “back to her usual self” and will “just get on with it in her own way.”
She adds it’s been a difficult time for the family but Phoebe’s bravery has kept them going.
She said: “It’s been a wild one, but in a way, as hard as it’s been, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
“No one wants to see their child going to surgery, but if she didn’t have hydrocephalus, she wouldn’t be Phoebe.
“We’ve never known it any different —That’s just how she is, we pinch ourselves that she’s alive and here and thriving.
“We’re just glad she’s here with us to experience the good times.”
Mum Megan said all the staff at Alder Hey were “amazing” to the family.
She said: “It’s not just the neurosurgeons and the nurses, the healthcare assistants and cleaners all interacted with Phoebe and started off her day in a good way.
“They’re chatting and having a laugh with Phoebe and she loves human interaction.”
Phoebe’s favourite part of being in hospital was having desert with every meal.
Every day she felt she was “on holiday” as she got to tuck into cake and custard.
Phoebe is spending Christmas with her family with her granddad cooking roast dinner.
Megan said: “Phoebe’s decided since she’s been in Alder Hey nearly every day she has to have cake and custard.
“All she wants to eat is cake and custard so that’s what she’s having for Christmas Dinner — she definitely takes after her dad there.
“She’s going to see her granddad and her uncle, so knowing them, she’s going to be absolutely spoilt.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.