"Miracle" girl, Karlie Toland, who was predicted not to survive beyond birth is turning three on Sunday

The parents of Karlie Toland, from Lurgan, were warned that if their baby made it to term she would likely be stillborn, or that if she did survive, she would live no more than 20 minutes after birth. But Karlie, who turns three on Sunday, has so far defied the expectations of doctors and her parents. The family will celebrate her third birthday this weekend along with a fundraiser to help them find out more about her complex medical condition.

Karlie was born with part of her brain outside her skull (frontal encephalocele) and suffers from a condition which causes her brain to be completely fused (alobar holoprosencephaly). She also has chromosome abnormalities and a form of cerebral palsy and is thought to be the only person in the world with this series of rare conditions.

Born weighing just 3lb10oz, she was operated on at three weeks by Dr Mano Shanmuganathan, a neurosurgeon at Belfast's Royal Hospital for Sick Children, and had the protruding part of her brain removed. Karlie’s Mum, Ms McCusker, said "Dr Mano sees her every year. He says she has exceeded his expectations as well."

Saturday's night's concert in Lurgan is to raise money so the family can attend a conference in Ohio in the USA. This conference will give Karlie’s family the opportunity to meet experts on her medical condition and "It will be good to speak to other parents too and meet their children."

The concert has been organised by a local Lurgan man, who first got to know the family when he worked as a taxi driver and took them to numerous hospital appointments, "Brendan has been very supportive of us and has followed Karlie's progress."

Families who receive a tragic diagnosis of a life-limiting condition need perinatal hospice care, love and support, for example All They Need Is Love NI and Every Life Counts, Ireland. This gives parents and families the chance to cherish all the precious memories and moments with their babies, before and after birth. A baby’s predicted lifespan doesn’t determine human value. Human value is inherent – not conditional.

Karlie’s remarkable story is also proof that medical predictions can be wrong. Families can take comfort in stories like that of Karlie Toland. We condemn the culture that tells parents that abortion is merciful for their baby. Every baby deserves a chance at life. And EVERY life is worth fighting for!

Karlie’s Mum said, “It's so rewarding to see how far she has come.” Karlie has learnt how to talk and she can pull herself around her home using the furniture, "She really is a miracle."

Life offers no guarantees but abortion offers no chances.  

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