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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 13:38 GMT
Parents' pride over brave Charlotte
by Anna Lindsay
BBC News, Portsmouth

Newborn Christina Wyatt
Christina Wyatt was born six weeks prematurely at the weekend
Just like her sister Charlotte Wyatt - the severely disabled child whose right to life has been secured in the courts - three-day-old Christina Wyatt has been born prematurely.

For their parents, Darren and Debbie Wyatt, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, it seems as if history is repeating itself.

Only last month, on Charlotte's second birthday, the High Court removed an order which allowed doctors not to resuscitate her should her condition worsen.

Charlotte's birth at 26 weeks, weighing just 1lb (0.45kg), left her brain-damaged, unable to crawl or walk and with severe sight, hearing, lung and kidney damage.

You can see now that Charlotte wants to come home
Darren Wyatt

Now, newborn Christina, born six weeks early by an emergency caesarean, is in intensive care in the same room at Portsmouth's St Mary's Hospital where Charlotte's life also began.

So far Christina's prognosis is good. Doctors say if her condition remains the same, she is likely to be home within the next few weeks.

But Charlotte's severe disabilities means she has never left hospital.

She has her own special room on a children's ward, just metres across the hallway from her newborn sister, which has been her home since birth.

Charlotte Wyatt being fed solid food
Charlotte Wyatt has been improving and eating solid food

It has a strange mix of Charlotte's belongings - cuddly toys nestling alongside breathing equipment and feeding tubes.

Despite being so close, the two sisters will not meet for some time; Charlotte has been suffering from a cough, putting her and her sister at risk.

"Charlotte can't go over there because if she spread an infection on the newborn unit it could be fatal," Mr Wyatt, 33, said on a daily visit to see both girls.

He added that even though Christina "seems very good" and is stable, they would probably have to wait until she had been discharged from hospital before the sisters could be together for the first time.

Despite a gloomy prognosis last year, Charlotte has survived against the odds and medical opinion.

She is more aware of her surroundings, reaches out and eats solid food, as well as being fed by a tube.

A hand-painting she did six months ago hangs in her hospital room.

Charlotte, Debbie and Darren Wyatt

"Words can't explain how it's been over the past two years with Charlotte," Mr Wyatt said while spoon-feeding Charlotte pureed apple crumble.

"There may have been times when we felt like giving up but we haven't - we've carried on. And Charlotte's still with us, still improving, still getting stronger."

The Wyatts next goal is to take Charlotte out into the hospital grounds for the first time without medical supervision, and they have just completed resuscitation training.

Within the next few weeks, they hope to be taking her home to their council flat for a couple of hours, twice a week.

"You can see now that Charlotte wants to come home," said Mr Wyatt.

Charlotte will have her good days and her bad days
Darren Wyatt

"I think she's had enough of being stuck in a hospital, she wants to come home where she belongs and be there with her family."

By March, the Wyatts believe Charlotte will be well enough to live at home permanently.

It will be the first time the whole family, including the Wyatts' two sons, Daniel, two, and David, one, will be together.

The two boys had to be placed in foster care over the weekend while Christina was born. The Wyatts receive no help from their respective parents.

"It will be chaos, with all of the children running around", Mrs Wyatt said.

Charlotte Wyatt in her hospital bed
Charlotte has her own room in hospital, where she lives

Still recovering from the caesarean section, Mrs Wyatt, 24, left hospital the day after Christina was born so she could be there for her family, and the boys could come home.

The family are now waiting for a bigger council home, ready for Charlotte's possible home-coming with all her medical equipment.

But they are under no illusions about how tough things will be.

"Charlotte will have her good days and her bad days," said Mr Wyatt.

"So if she had a chest infection and was finding it very hard to breathe we would have to bring her back to hospital.

"It will be like that for quite a while."




SEE ALSO:
Right to life parents have baby
13 Nov 05 |  Hampshire
Ruling lifted on baby Charlotte
21 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Judge delays baby Charlotte order
14 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Baby Charlotte 'is not suffering'
13 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Parents lose right-to-life appeal
25 Aug 05 |  Hampshire
Baby joy for Charlotte's parents
22 Apr 05 |  Hampshire
Baby 'should be allowed to die'
21 Apr 05 |  Hampshire


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