DOCTORS predicted that baby Maya Ratcliffe would probably not survive to full term or would live for only hours or days, if she did well.

But Maya, who was born with spina bifida, has defied expectations and this weekend is due to celebrate her second birthday.

Maya was born prematurely at York Hospital on October 12, 2011, with serious spinal problems and swelling on her brain.

Her parents, Fay Dovey and Aaron Ratcliffe, did not get to see her until 14 hours after she was born, after she had been transfered to intensive care in Manchester Children’s Hospital.

She underwent five lengthy operations in the first few months and had to fight for her life after contracting meningitis. She has also suffered 27 severe seizures, which can stop her breathing.

But thanks to a new drug, it has now been four months since Maya had a seizure and the whole family is celebrating the birth of her baby brother, Max, ten weeks ago.

To mark Maya’s birthday and to raise awareness and money for SHINE, the charity which has supported them throughout Maya’s life, the family is now preparing to take part in the Perkins Great Eastern 5k run in Peterborough next Monday.

“We have a smiling, happy, chatty, independent girl who is full of life and a real character,” said Fay who was brought up in The Groves and until recently worked as a physiotherapist in the stroke rehabilitation unit at York Hospital.

“Maya has been seizure-free for four month and is amazing all her doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. Every day she amazes us and achieves something. They may not be the average child milestones, but they are Maya’s missions.

“Maya attends full-time regular nursery because we both work to support our children and we believe Maya is doing so well due to the love and support of our family and friends and the dedication and commitment of all the staff at her nursery who have so much passion and enthusiasm.

“We are doing this run for SHINE, a charity very close to our hearts, who, like family and friends, have been there every step of our journey with Maya. They have given us support, information and advise when things have been tough and have smiled and laugh with us through the good times.

“Without SHINE, Maya’s journey may never have begun.”

The research carried out by the charity had also allowed the birth of their healthy baby Max through Fay taking a very high dose of folic acid, vitamin B12 injections and close monitoring.

Fay, Aaron, Max and Maya in their prams, and relatives Heather, Harry and Janice, will all take part in the weekend’s run.

The family, who now live in Cambridgeshire, where they have moved to be near a specialist hospital, said they would like to thank York Hospital for the exceptional care they received.

To sponsor the family, visit

One-in-1,000 odds of disorder

• Maya was born with spina bifida, a fault in the development of the spine and spinal cord which leaves a gap in the spine.

• There are a number of different types of spina bifida, the most serious, and the type Maya has, being myelomeningocele (affecting one pregnancy in every 1,000 in Britain).

• In myelomeningocele, the spinal column remains open along the bones making up the spine. The membranes and spinal cord push out to create a sac in the baby’s back. This sometimes leaves the nervous system vulnerable to infections that may be fatal.

• Most babies with myelomeningocele will also develop hydrocephalus, which is excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain, a condition which affected Maya.

• Hydrocephalus needs to be treated urgently with surgery as the pressure on the brain can cause brain damage.