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Parents of Cwmbran girl diagnosed with cerebral palsy reveal impact Taekwon-Do has had

The parents of a girl diagnosed with cerebral palsy have revealed her determination to live life to the full despite the daily challenges she faces.

Eirwen Ansell was found to be in the breech position when her mum Cath Ansell was admitted to Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport nine days over her due date.

Cath was admitted to hospital at about 6.30pm. Following a conversation with medics, Cath said she agreed to an elective caesarean. Eirwen was delivered by emergency caesarean at 11.25pm.

She was blue and floppy and had to be resuscitated.  She was found to have breathed fluid into her lungs in the womb.

Eirwen, of Cwmbran, spent 11 days in hospital, including on a ventilator. She was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Now aged 13, her condition affects her mobility, speech and sight.

Following her diagnosis Cath, 50, and husband Lee , 52, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their daughter’s care under Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and help her access the specialist lifetime therapies and support she’s expected to require.

The family are now joining with their legal team to share their story as part of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month.

They are particularly keen to highlight the benefits of physical activity. Eirwen takes part in Taekwon-Do sessions at the United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Council’s club in Henllys. Eirwen recently passed her first grading and received a yellow tag on her belt.

Kate Easy, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Cardiff office, representing the family, said: “Through our work we sadly see first-hand the life-long consequences families can be left to face following a birth injury.

“While she faces many challenges Eirwen shows great courage and determination not to be defined by her condition. She’s benefitted greatly from attending regular Taekwon-Do sessions

“While Cath and Lee understandably continue to have concerns about Eirwen’s maternity care which we’re supporting them with, Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is a great way of highlighting how disability need not be a barrier and how people can flourish with help and support.”

Following her birth in January 2010 Eirwen also underwent treatment for suspected sepsis, where the body attacks itself in response to an infection.

After Cath and Lee were concerned about her development, Eirwen was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged two.

Eirwen, who attends Crownbridge School, uses a wheelchair on occasion. Her co-ordination and speech are severely affected. She finds it difficult to pronounce words of more than two syllables and is undergoing speech and language therapy sessions.

She’s also partially sighted and has extremely poor peripheral vision.

Cath said: “As soon as Eirwen was delivered I knew something wasn’t right. She was floppy and not crying. It felt like the doctors and other medical staff were working on her for an age, getting her to breathe.

“Those first few days of her life and seeing Eirwen on a ventilator were particularly hard.  We were just hoping she would be okay and were so grateful she pulled through.

“When we got her home and as the months went by we instinctively knew that she wasn’t developing as we thought she should be.  When we got the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, it was a real mix of emotions. Relief that it was recognised as something and not our imagination but also apprehension as to what it might mean for her and her future.

“While there have been difficult times over the last few years we’re so proud of Eirwen and the positivity she shows each day not to be defined by her condition.

“Taekwon-Do is a major part of her life. Not only does it help with Eirwen’s strength, she gets so much confidence from the sessions and has made some supportive friends.

“We know Eirwen will continue to face challenges throughout her life, but by sharing her story we hope we can help other families who may be going through a similar experience.

“Help and support is out there and means children like Eirwen are still able to lead a full and active life.”