CELEBRATING an 18th birthday is big for any teenager but for Sarah Howe, it meant she beat the odds of surviving.
And to make the big day even more special, Sarah did a charity skydive to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, based at the hospital in London where she was treated.
Sarah was born with respiratory distress syndrome, which occurs when a newborn baby’s lungs cannot provide enough oxygen for the rest of the body.
She was rushed to Great Ormond Street in a fight for survival and was told that she would only have a 50/50 chance of living.
Now, 18 years on, Sarah is a healthy teenager studying to be an air hostess at South Downs College in Waterlooville.
She said: ‘Great Ormond Street Hospital saved my life and helped out my family so much to get me through.
‘Without their help I don’t think I would be here today and that is why I was so determined to do something as adventurous as a skydive. I am so grateful to the doctors and nurses.’
She added: ‘I have recently raised some money by doing various sales and raffles but I wanted to do something big so decided to do the skydive.
‘I am hoping that all the things I am doing make a difference because without their generosity I would not be here today.’
Her mum Kay, of Stubbington, said: ‘Sarah is absolutely brilliant.
‘She is healthy and well and it is all down to Great Ormond Street.
‘Unless you have been through something like us you do not know what it feels like to be told your little baby only has a 50/50 chance at life but she has grown up to be a lovely young lady.
‘We have been lucky because the doctors said that even if she did survive, she could suffer from bad asthma.
‘In the first two years she did have bronchitis but she rarely has problems.
‘We’re just so grateful that Sarah is with us.’
The News followed the first year of Sarah’s life with two front-page stories.
The first told of her dash to London in an ambulance, which only had seconds of oxygen left when they arrived at the hospital. The second showed Sarah at one-year-old as a healthy young child.
Sarah’s dad, Richard, said the whole thing was made easier by their friends and family.
He said: ‘When incidents like this occur, it is massively helpful to have people around you.
‘When our car broke, our friends Tina Brooks, Emma Heath, Christine Bowman and Karen and Lloyd Clewer helped us get a free courtesy car so we could go up to the hospital to see her.
‘It is small things like this that make a huge difference.’