Little Annie's fight against the odds

WITH her rosy cheeks and cheeky smile, it would be hard to guess this happy toddler was fighting for her life just over a year ago. Within three months of her birth in February 2008, tiny Annie Boon found herself being ferried between intensive care wards

WITH her rosy cheeks and cheeky smile, it would be hard to guess this happy toddler was fighting for her life just over a year ago.

Within three months of her birth in February 2008, tiny Annie Boon found herself being ferried between intensive care wards around the capital.

She had been diagnosed with a hole in her diaphragm, which prevented her lungs developing properly and left her with severe breathing problems.

At just two-months-old, surgeons attempted experimental surgery which gave her a 50-50 chance of survival.


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More operations followed and her parents James and Annie Boon, two city lawyers from Riverside Road, St Albans, could but hope for the best.

It was only when baby Annie arrived at St Mary's paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) that they found some respite in the expert hands of the staff there.

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A series of medical investigations by doctors at the hospital revealed that she had been struggling to recover due to a floppy trachea.

This discovery explained why her health had been continually dogged by respiratory infections like pneumonia.

And within two weeks Annie's condition had stabilised and her family were finally allowed to take her home.

Canadian-born Mrs Boon recalls the time when their seemingly endless hospital stays came to an end.

"May was our hopeful month," she said. "The sun was shining and we had the summer for her to get better and grow before the flu season.

"Then October hit and we were back in the hospital. We were back in three times, but it was not nearly as scary as before - she was just getting colds.

"Since then she has got bigger and she coping much better with everything. The hope now is that she'll grow out of it and her trachea will become less floppy.

"We're very positive, she's got stronger and that hospital visits have become less.

"She's doing very well."

Mrs Boon credits her daughter's dramatic recovery to her sheer determination.

She says Annie is not just walking at 16 months, but running, and is certainly no shrinking violet.

But the grateful mother-of-three is also very aware of how much her family owes to the hard working staff of St Mary's PICU.

She said: "I wrote to one of the St Mary's doctors the other day and said 'I think of you guys every time she says any words or moves on with her development'."

Mrs Boon is planning to show her appreciation for the unit's work by taking part in walk to raise money for Children of St Mary's Intensive Care (COSMIC).

The walk, which is due to take place on July 12, will begin in Hyde Park and end at the hospital.

Anyone who wishes to sponsor Mrs Boon should go to http://www.justgiving.com/suzanneboon and more information about the event can be found at http://www.cosmiccharity.com/EventDetails.aspx?EventId=108.

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