A baby girl born with a huge purple growth the size of her head has miraculously clung on to life. Now 11 months old, Alana Long, of Accrington, Lancashire, was born with encephalocele. This is a rare birth defect that causes parts of her brain to grow through a hole in the back of the skull.
Doctors told her parents she would most likely die in the womb or immediately after birth, but she beat the odds to survive and was born weighing a healthy 8lbs 10oz in February. As just eight days old, she had surgery to remove the growth, which was full of cerebro-spinal fluid and brain matter.
The operation left her partially sighted and with slower development, and her parents Catherine, 38, and Mark, 45, expect her to be severely disabled.But despite this, they say the do not regret their choice to give Alana a 'chance at life' and say she is thriving.
Mrs Long, a checkout operator, said:
'If you look at her now she is like any normal little girl.We found at about the encephalocele at 20 weeks and it was upsetting at first.And then we looked it up and looked at the facts and decided to continue with the pregnancy because we were told she would either die in utero or at birth.
We decided to give her a chance to live a normal life but we do think that Alana will be severely disabled.She is still going strong and laughing though.'
Encephalocele is described as a sac-like protrusion of the brain, and the membranes that cover it, through an opening in the skull. It happens when the neural tube - a precursor to the central nervous system (which comprises the brain and spinal cord) in an embryo - does not close completely during pregnancy.