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‘Fighter’ Scots tot born with rare lung condition battles back from brink

With her light brown hair and cheeky smile, Khloe McInally looks like any healthy baby.

But to her proud parents Laura and Kevin and sister Kara, six, she is their “born fighter”.

At just six hours old, doctors faced a race against time when a rare anomaly meant Khloe’s first breath failed to open her lungs, leaving them filled with fluid instead of air.

Khloe, who weighed a healthy 7lb 6oz, had scored top marks at birth in the Apgar test – used to assess a baby’s pulse, reaction and breathing.

But her blood had continued to circulate as it did in her mother’s womb, causing too much of it to bypass the lungs.

This put a potentially deadly strain on her heart and left her whole body lacking in oxygen.

The condition, persistent ­pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), baffled doctors at University Hospital Wishaw, where she arrived two weeks late on March 7, and she was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

Khloe, who also had a hole in her heart, spent the next week sedated and hooked up to full life-support as medics battled to keep her alive.

The rare condition put a potentially deadly strain on her heart and left her whole body lacking in oxygen

Mum Laura, 33, from Motherwell, said: “We just thought ‘how can this be happening?’ She did the big cry when she was born, I got skin to skin straight away and she did all the things a typical baby does.

“There was no concern. But they said she didn’t take a big enough breath when she was born to inflate her lungs. We were just in complete shock.”

Laura had enjoyed six hours of cuddling and feeding her baby in hospital and was expecting to get to take her home, when Khloe’s vomit became “streaked with blood” and her oxygen levels dropped.

Staff at Wishaw managed to ­stabilise her but then Laura was told a specialist transport team was on its way to take her baby to Glasgow.

Laura said: “It was 4am and I was just distraught.

“They said her heart was enlarged on one side because it was working so hard to pump what little oxygen it could round the body and there was a high pressure on her lungs.”

Laura, an engineering team manager, was so petrified her baby would die she refused to wash a tiny mit Khloe was sick on until the day she brought her home.

She said: “It smelled of baby milk and it was the only thing I had with her smell on it. I was terrified that if anything happened I wouldn’t have anything.”

As soon as Khloe arrived at the Royal, doctors diagnosed PPHN and warned her parents the ­condition was critical.

Laura added: “She was almost in a coma. I wasn’t even allowed to stroke her, the only thing I could do was put my hand on her.

“You just felt so helpless, watching your baby suffering and you cannot do a single thing about it, apart from sit next to her talking and telling her stories, hoping she will be strong enough to fight it off.”

After a week on a ventilator, Khloe’s circulation began to flow normally and she came off the device on Mother’s Day.

Khloe has now been signed off as healthy after doctors confirmed the hole in her heart has also closed.

Laura said: “I can’t thank the staff enough for saving her life.

“She’s just like any typical six-month-old baby and is meeting all her milestones; she’s crawling and is pulling herself up holding onto my hands.

“She was born a wee fighter.”

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