A PARTY has been held to celebrate the first birthday the parents of a baby girl were warned she might not reach.

Little Ammia Storey was born last March suffering from a rare abdominal wall defect, meaning her vital organs are outside her stomach.

At three months, her parents, Melanie Belcher and Johnathan Storey, from Ushaw Moor, County Durham, were told she may not survive.

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But she has defied the medics and today (Sunday, March 23) has celebrated with family and friends at Ushaw Moor Catholic Club.

Despite breathing with help of a tube in her windpipe, having undergone eight blood transfusions and open heart surgery, she smiled and gurgled during the celebrations.

Ms Belcher was told of the exomphalos diagnosis at her 12 week scan and Ammia was born on March 14, 2013, weighing 5lb 8oz at almost 37 weeks.

She was so poorly she had to stay at the RVI until last month, so the party also marked her parents being able to bring her home.

Ms Belcher said: “It means everything to have her home, but it is nerve-racking because she still needs so much looking after.

“It has been a long fight with doctors, nurses and surgeons and we have still got a long way to go. Today is about celebrating and welcoming her home.”

Ammia will still need three or four operations to put her organs back inside her stomach and more heart surgery, but they cannot proceed until her lungs are more developed and she can breathe on her own.

Ms Belcher and Mr Storey are now full time carers and have had a steep learning curve getting to grips with Ammia’s constant needs, including medication and equipment to keep her alive.

They have been helped by many family and friends, and are now considering setting up a charity to help families in the same position.

They hope to see Ammia swim with dolphins after one of them took a shine to Ms Belcher when she was on holiday and pregnant.

Mr Storey said: “We have learned a lot and will help others any we can.”

The family is looking for advice in setting up the charity.

Anyone able to give the family advice on how to set up a charity is asked to email Celticmel@aol.com.