Matilda’s inspirational journey to the classroom

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A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl, who was given a 50/50 chance of survival after suffering from a birth defect, is looking forward to starting school.

Matilda Powling was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia while still in the womb – resulting in her stomach and intestines pushing through the diaphragm which squashed her only developed lung and pushed her heart to the other side.

An operation was conducted when she was just a few days old to repair her diaphragm using tissue from her back.

She is now a ‘lively and energetic’ youngster, who enjoys ballet, roller skating as well as swimming and is eager to start her education at Thurston Primary School next week.

Her parents Nicky and Marcus want to shine the spotlight on her journey to give hope to other parents who may be struggling with similar experiences.

Mr Powling, who is assistant project manager in estates and facilities at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “It would be nice for other parents to know there’s a good outcome.

“At the time there was so little out there for us to see, no real positive stories and if anything it was a bit of an unknown topic.

“When we were at the hospital a baby came in with exactly the same condition and didn’t make it so we were very lucky.

“We didn’t know what to expect and it was very scary. You get dark thoughts that creep into your head but I put my focus into reassuring Nicky and making sure she was coping as best she could.”

Matilda developed a second lung but suffers from reflux and the big problem in the early days was gaining weight.

Mr Powling said: “She couldn’t keep stuff down when she was young but as she got bigger she learnt to deal with food. She’s still really tiny. Her brother Reggie is two years younger than her and he outweighs her.”

Despite this, Matilda is as active as her peers.

Her dad said: “She’s very lively and energetic. I don’t know where she gets it from sometimes.

“She can’t wait to go to school. She’s quite bright and needs the stimulation.”

He also highlighted the good work of charity CDH UK, which was set up in 2003 to support families with babies affected by congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Mr Powling added: “We didn’t know about them until fairly recently. They’re very supportive for parents and are always trying to think of ways to raise money.”

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