A courageous Chorley couple have spoken of their grief after their nine-month-old daughter died.
Little Scarlett Rose Tootell was born weighing less than 1lb, and, despite a continuous battle, the youngster died after enjoying just one hour out of hospital – which she spent at the duck pond with her mum.
Dad Martin Tootell, 23, and mum Christy Bates, 27, paid tribute to their ‘little fighter’, saying: “We have had an amazing nine months, and, even though it has been incredibly hard, she has changed both of our lives for the better.”
Scarlett was born 14 weeks premature and measuring just 30cm from head to toe.
Christy, of Carrington Road, Chorley, said she had a normal pregnancy but went into an unexpected premature labour in June last year.
Scarlett was born at Royal Preston Hospital’s Sharoe Green Unit with severe chronic lung disease, which meant she had to be on a ventilator, problems with her heart, and no immune system.
Martin, who is a processor at meat firm Dunbia, said: “Sometimes you can do all the right things and something like this just happens. We didn’t have a clue there would be any problems.
“It was scary, but it all happened so fast and she was here before we knew it.
“She was born weighing 920g, just short of a bag of sugar.”
Within two weeks of being born, Scarlett was transferred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital for treatment before returning to Preston’s neo-natal unit.
Christy, who works as a care assistant at The Grange on Stump Lane, said: “She had to go on a ventilator for three months.
“Her lungs were in a bad way, but she was showing signs of improvement.
“She has always been in hospital and because of that everyone had a real bond. She had a way of making everyone fall in love with her.
“Scarlett was the longest standing baby on that unit, she broke all the records. That was just like her.
“Every 100 days they would hold a little party.”
Christy said: “About a month ago she was doing quite well and they moved her from neo-natal.
“We were able to take her out in her pram with all the equipment to the duck pond at the hospital and we packed a little picnic.
“It was so special, we will treasure that.
“For that short time it was like she was a normal child, like she was properly ours without the doctors and nurses there.
“They said we were going to go home in the next few weeks, and so we didn’t expect this to happen at all.”
Scarlett stopped breathing on Monday of last week and Martin and Christy were forced to make the impossible decision to let their baby girl die peacefully.
Christy said: “Her heart stopped for about half an hour but they brought her back.
“They took her to theatre and put her back on the ventilator. The doctors and nurses were so good, they did everything they could.
“The difficult bit was when they said there was nothing more they could do.
“We had to make the decision to either keep her going or switch the machine off. They told us if she came back, she wouldn’t have been our Scarlett any more. She would have suffered. We couldn’t be selfish, we had to think of her. She was such a fighter.”
The brave couple will welcome Scarlett home for the first time this week, ahead of her funeral on Thursday.
They have thanked the doctors and nurses and family and friends who have rallied around to give support, as well as colleagues where they work.
The funeral will he held at Sacred Heart on Brooke Street, Chorley, on Thursday, from 1.15pm, where donations will be taken for the Royal Preston Hospital’s neo-natal unit and to aid research into chronic lung disease.