A little girl who has undergone three operations to correct a rare genetic condition is looking forward to starting school in the UK.
Olivia Gillies, 4, was born with Beckwith-Weidemann syndrome, a disorder that affects one in 15,000 births, leaving her with an over-sized tongue.
According to the Genetic Homes Reference, the condition is classified as an overgrowth syndrome and can cause specific parts of the body to grow abnormally large, such as the tongue and limbs. Sufferers can also experience hearing loss and heart disorders in some cases.
Parents Emma, 29, and Ian, 40, discovered their daughter’s condition during a seven-month routine scan.
“We were told it was an overgrowth disorder - parts of Olivia’s body, including her internal organs, would be larger than normal,” Emma was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.
She remembers the time she finally got to hold her baby girl, saying: “Her tongue was protruding from her mouth, but I wasn’t shocked. I loved her instantly.”
There were concerns about breast-feeding and issues with her breathing during the first few months, so the parents had to be cautious.
Olivia endured her first tongue reduction operation when she was six months old in September 2010. She also needed a tracheostomy to help her breathe, according to the Daily Mail.
Two further surgeries in March 2011 and March 2012 followed. Now Olivia is able to eat and breathe on her own.
“She was a little late walking and she is still learning to talk properly – family members can understand but strangers sometimes struggle to follow her. But she is hitting all her milestones more-or-less as expected,” Emma Gillies said. “After everything that happened, she’s a very happy child.”
(Photos via the Daily Mail)