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Toddler diagnosed with Sturge-Weber syndrome smiles her way through life
March 10, 2017
Matilda Callaghan is among the bravest of little girls.
The Lancashire toddler, nicknamed Polka Dot Princess, was born with a rare skin and neurological condition called Sturge-Weber syndrome, according to the Daily Mail.
The disorder is characterized by a facial birthmark known as a port-wine stain caused by an "overabundance of capillaries" just beneath the surface of the skin, according to sturge-weber.org. In addition to the facial birthmark, individuals with Sturge-Weber syndrome suffer neurological abnormalities related to excessive blood vessel growth on the brain's surface. Matilda is affected by glaucoma, epilepsy, paralysis on one side, and learning disabilities, according to Matilda's GoFundMe page.
Though sturge-weber.org states the causes of the disorder are unknown, Matilda's mother, Rebecca, told the Daily Mail that Matilda was delivered early because there was too much fluid in Rebecca's amniotic sac.
"We'd been so excited at our baby's arrival, now within a matter of hours we didn't know whether we would even see her alive again," Matilda's father, Paul, told Daily Mail in 2013.
Not only was Matilda born with Sturge-Weber syndrome, but also with her food pipe and wind pipe connected and two holes in her heart, according to Matilda's GoFundMe campaign for a £5000 wheelchair. According to an article in the Daily Mail, Matilda's walking abilities are limited to a few steps at a time with the help of a walking frame.
"They've had to order it already as I'm too big for the one I've got and I've tipped it over quite a few times," reads Matilda's GoFundMe campaign. "Please help my mummy and daddy spread awareness and if you can help them in any way we would really be so grateful."
In only six days, 208 people contributed £6,865 to Matilda's cause.
According to The Sun, Matilda's parents are giving back to their daughter's supporters by fundraising for the Sturge-Weber Foundation UK and Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where Matilda receives laser treatments every couple months to help lighten her birthmark.
"I wish they could see past the birthmark and see what a wonderful little angel she is," Paul told the Daily Mail. "She's always got a smile for everyone but she's feisty too."
"She was a fighter from the moment she arrived into the world and she's carried on fighting every since," concludes Paul. "She's our little miracle."