Waterlooville parents' bid to raise awareness of rare birth defect which affected daughter

AFTER a traumatic first few days, a mum is desperate to raise awareness of a rare birth defect that affected her baby girl.

Saturday, 26th December 2020, 7:00 am

Hannah Featherstone and partner Joshua Spiers from Waterlooville welcomed daughter Elsie in August this year but just a few hours after she was born via C-section at Queen Alexandra Hospital, nurses noticed something was wrong.

Hannah, 22, said: ‘When she was fed the milk was coming out of her nose and she was having difficulties. They rushed her off to the Intensive Care Unit and I wasn’t sure what was going on I was so out of it after the C-section and I had caught sepsis as well.

‘They said she had a tracheo-oesophageal fistula which is basically where the food pipe is attached to the lungs. She had to be taken to Southampton General Hospital for urgent surgery in the first 24 hours of her life.

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Elsie Grace Spiers with her mother, Hannah Featherstone and her father, Joshua Spiers Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘I wasn’t allowed to go with her and Joshua wasn’t allowed in the ambulance as she needed two doctors with her. It was really scary not being with her and being apart from Joshua as well.’

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Elsie had to spend 10 days in Southampton after having surgery to close off the connection between the oesophagus and windpipe and reattach the upper part of the oesophagus with the lower oesophagus and stomach.

Hannah and Joshua, 25, were allowed to visit their new baby girl but the pair weren’t allowed in together due to Covid rules.

Elsie Spiers in hospital.

Hannah, who works in a factory, said: ‘It was really sad that we couldn’t have that time altogether when she was first born and especially at such a scary time.

‘The nurses said it was really rare and in Portsmouth they only see it in around two babies per year. We had never heard of it and we do think it is important that is it known about more.’

The family of three are now at home enjoying their first Christmas.

Joshua Spiers, baby Elsie and Hannah Featherstone

Hannah added: ‘She is doing better but because of the surgery she has a tightening halfway down her oesophagus.

‘We know that she is not going to have an entirely normal life as she won’t be able to eat certain foods like beef which could easily get stuck and at school she will have to be monitored while eating at nursery and school but we are really lucky to have our little miracle girl Elsie.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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