A baby who was “fighting for her life from the moment she was born” has defied the odds to celebrate her first birthday.
Little Ryleigh Steven was born with five holes in her heart and at just three days old, the Douglas youngster was in intensive care with doctors unable to figure out what was wrong with her.
After multiple scans and reviews of images, they discovered Ryleigh had been born with a ventricular septal defect and multiple atrial septal defects.
Mum Valerie Christie remained by her bedside as she fought for her life – fearing she would never get to take her wee one home.
However, Ryleigh underwent life-saving surgery – and has gone from strength to strength since – with Valerie dubbing the youngster “her little Xena Warrior Princess”.
Valerie said: “She isn’t out of the woods yet – we are still waiting for test results to see if she is going to need a pacemaker.
“It is amazing to see her celebrate her first birthday – there were times when I didn’t think we would ever see this happen.
“Those months we spent in hospital were the worst of my life.
“I just never, ever thought she would be where she is today.
“When we first got her home I was always worried if she had been asleep too long – I would start panicking and think, ‘is she breathing?’.
“From that, seeing what she has gone through, to where she is now feels so good.
“She is an amazing wee girl, she is always smiling, even if her heart isn’t working 100%.
“Ryleigh is the happiest wee girl ever.”
Ryleigh celebrated her first birthday by heading to her grandfather’s house for a party.
The youngster didn’t leave hospital for the first 11 weeks her life – and her first outing was being taken to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow where she underwent a series of tests before ultimately having surgery and being put into a medically-induced coma.
She regained consciousness but the sound of Valerie’s voice agitated her too much and she had to be sedated again.
She then survived two infections she contracted while in hospital, although she still has some fluid on her lungs.
At one point it was uncertain whether Ryleigh would ever be able to go home.
But the “wee fighter” finally made it back to Dundee. Valerie previously said the scars from Ryleigh’s operations were “her war wounds” and that she would teach the youngster to “be proud of them”.
Ryleigh’s condition allowed blood to pass from the left side of her heart to the right side.