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'Miracle baby' Clara gets all-clear from Down syndrome and leukaemia

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Eight-month-old Clara McLoughlin with her mum Helen and dad Anthony, at their home in Ratoath, Co Meath

Eight-month-old Clara McLoughlin with her mum Helen and dad Anthony, at their home in Ratoath, Co Meath

Clara McLoughlin pictured in Dublin's Rotunda hospital  at 20 Days

Clara McLoughlin pictured in Dublin's Rotunda hospital at 20 Days

Clara McLoughlin pictured at he home in Ratoath

Clara McLoughlin pictured at he home in Ratoath

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Eight-month-old Clara McLoughlin with her mum Helen and dad Anthony, at their home in Ratoath, Co Meath

DOCTORS are investigating how a "miracle baby" born with leukaemia and the Down Syndrome chromosome has since been given the all-clear.

Little Clara McLoughlin weighed in at 1.14kg – around the size of a bag of sugar – when she was born early at 28 weeks on August 7, 2012.

Her twin, Pippa, who had both leukaemia and Down syndrome, did not survive.

Mum Helen Kavanagh (42) from Ratoath, Co Meath, told how doctors at Dublin's Rotunda hospital then discovered Clara too had leukaemia and also tested positive for the trisomy 21 chromosome – associated with Down syndrome – and immediately moved her to the neo-natal intensive care unit.

"They weren't giving her much hope and didn't expect her to survive and were taking it hour by hour," the new mother explained. "They compiled consultants to look at her case as it was so unique," she added.

They delivered a dose of medicine at just two days old to attack the leukaemia cells and gradually she began to put on weight.

They treated her for many of the problems linked to premature births, including laser eye surgery and an operation to repair a hole in the heart.

In November, and again in February, they carried out genetic tests to track the leukaemia and the trisomy 21.

"The leukaemia proved totally transient. It had left her body but normally the baby would be left with Down syndrome.

But that gene left her body as well. The geneticist rang me about her case. From a genetics point of view they are still investigating Clara and Pippa's story," Ms Kavanagh explained.

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"They are trying to figure out how she got the Down syndrome and the leukaemia and now she doesn't have it."

After spending 91 days in the ICU, they took her home.

"She is almost 20 pounds and meeting all her milestones. She is doing really well and we are really lucky, said Ms Kavanagh, who always believed Clara would survive.

"It is very hard to believe for people who have seen her.

"She is perfect and happy."

Ms Kavanagh will be one of the many parents out supporting the Irish Premature Babies motorbike road challenge later this week to raise money for vital life-saving equipment in neonatal intensive-care units.

Motorbike riders will be visiting hospital units throughout the country from April 25 until April 28.


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