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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 June 2007, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
'Our baby survived against the odds'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News, health reporter

Imogen Dyson with parents Barry and Lindsey
The family set up a blog to chart Imogen's progress

When Lindsey Dyson found out she was pregnant, after seven years of trying and two courses of IVF, she was delighted.

Initially the pregnancy was smooth and her first couple of scans were fine, but the 20 week scan showed there was a serious problem with their baby girl.

She had a diaphragmatic hernia - a hole in the diaphragm muscle that separates the chest from the guts which allows the intestines to grow in the chest and impede lung development - and they would not know how serious it was until after her birth.

Lindsey and husband Barry were devastated. Doctors warned them that their baby would only have a 40% chance of survival once born.

We hope that this website can present the hard facts alongside Imogen's story to give people hope and help them get through a very difficult time
Lindsey Dyson

They trawled the internet to find information, but found only gloomy tales.

Barry recalls: "There was nothing out there to give us hope.

"It's a natural reaction to go surfing for info and we just wanted to find sites that would give us optimism."

Two years on, Imogen is thriving. Lindsey and Barry have created a website to tell their tale and offer hope to other parents in similar circumstances.

Imogen's story

When Imogen was born she was desperately ill and doctors slashed her survival chances to single figures.

She was not expected to survive the first night, and the next day her parents were advised to get her christened immediately if they wanted it done.

Imogen Dyson after lung collapsed
Doctors often feared Imogen might not survive

Barry said: "This hit home to us just how seriously ill they thought she was.

"It was probably the first time that we had to face the fact that our time with Imogen may be short-lived."

For two weeks Imogen fought a daily battle - although she was surviving doctors were still not optimistic about her chances.

Barry recalls: "The doctor explained that should her heart stop, he could massage it to revive her.

"But Lindsey and I were both of the opinion that should her heart fail it would be a sure sign of fate and we should be grateful for our two weeks with her and instead let her go. This was no easy decision."

Imogen Dyson
Imogen needed to be ventilated

Worried about her deterioration, doctors carried out a chest X-ray, which showed her only effective lung had collapsed and that she needed an emergency bedside operation.

Her parents reconciled themselves to losing her.

"We had previously talked of planting a tree in her memory and it was looking likely that we would soon be doing this," said Barry.

But Imogen's operation was a success and at six weeks she had another operation to repair the hole in her diaphragm.

At seven weeks Barry and Lindsey had their first cuddle with Imogen.

Against the odds

At just over five months old, Imogen was discharged from hospital.

Today Imogen is still fed via a tube and needs oxygen 24/7, but her parents say carrying an oxygen tank everywhere with them has become almost second nature.

Imogen Dyson sitting on a chair
Imogen is thriving and now aged two

Lindsey says: "It can seem daunting at first, but Imogen is our first child so we don't know anything different.

"Having her on oxygen does not interfere with anything as we still go on holiday and do everything else."

She said their daughter's story should prove an inspiration to other parents facing the same situation.

"We hope that this website can present the hard facts alongside Imogen's story to give people hope and help them get through a very difficult time.

"I would tell other parents not to give up hope and to warn them that doctors do give the worst case scenarios," says Lindsey.

Congenital diaphragmatic hernias (CDH) are rare and only occur in 1 in 2-5000 live births in the UK.

Dr Ralph James MacKinnon, consultant paediatric anaesthetist at Saint Mary's Hospital, Manchester, who looked after Imogen, said :"CDH can be one of the most clinically challenging neonatal conditions.

"Imogen was extremely unwell immediately post birth. She has made an exceptional recovery."

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