Little girl born with 'mermaid' legs fused together takes her first steps

Noelle Spivey, 35, found out her unborn baby had a rare congenital foetal anomaly in her 12-week scan.

She was told her daughter, Blaire, was going to be born with sirenomelia, which meant her legs were rotated backward from the knee and fused at her feet.

Doctors also broke the crushing news that it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ Blaire would die.

Noelle, a dental assistant, from Lubbock, Texas, US, said: ‘It felt like an eternity while we were in there.

‘The doctor came in an essentially said, “Your baby has a fatal condition”.

‘I started crying – it had been hard enough to get pregnant. They said, “It’s not a matter of if she’s going to die but a matter of when”.’

But little Blaire beat the odds, surviving birth and undergoing a seven-hour operation to separate her legs when she was 18 months old, and the amputation of her legs at the knee.

Noelle was determined not to give up on her baby, and was closely monitored during the length of her pregnancy.

She said: ‘Most babies diagnosed with mermaid syndrome as a foetus don’t develop a kidney, intestines or genitals. It’s scary.’

When it was nearing time for her scheduled C-section, Noelle’s 37-week scan doctors showed that her amniotic fluid levels had dropped, so she was rushed for an emergency C-section.

She said Blaire’s birth ‘was the happiest moment of [her] life’

‘Once they made sure she was OK I got to see her and she was crying,’ she added. ‘I put my hand on her head, she looked at me and stopped crying.

‘She was born with lungs, heart, brain – everything was normal. But she only had one of her two bones in her lower legs. Below her knee, it was rotated backwards and everything was fused.

‘I had been terrified of the unknown. But seeing her in person – I was just calm.’

When she was just one day old, baby Blaire had surgery to fit her with a colostomy bag to help her with intestinal problems.

Then, when she was 18 months old, she had further surgery on her legs.

Noelle said: ‘She was amputated at the knee and had stubbies fitted the next spring.

‘Last summer she had her first full-length prosthetics made with feet.’

Blaire still has a few health issues that doctors are looking into, like the fact that she has just a partial bladder, but her mum Noelle described her as ‘sassy’ and ‘strong’.

She said: ‘She’s super smart and hilarious. She’s recently learned to cross her eyes.

‘She’s a miracle. We’ve started wheelchair tennis and cheerleading. I hope for a long, happy, healthy life for her.’

Now, Blaire has been able to take her first steps with full-length prosthetic legs.

‘I was terrified I would be scared of my baby while I was pregnant,’ said Noelle.

‘But when I saw her little feet and little heart I wasn’t terrified at all.

‘I thought, she’s just my baby. She’s perfect.

‘I tell her she was born a mermaid. And I say to her, “Not everyone is used to cool legs like you.”

‘They thought she wouldn’t walk. She’s beaten the odds.

‘She’s just a normal kid. It’s amazing to be her mum.’

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