Gillingham toddler Maisie Harris prepares to go home for the first time
Maisie Harris may be almost three years old, but the toddler has never been home.
That’s because she suffers from a rare condition called Ondine’s curse, which means her brain doesn’t tell her body to breathe.
This means Maisie needs a ventilator to do it for her.
This weekend, her parents Andrew Harris and Rachel Bridger are getting ready to take her home to Gillingham for the first time, having spent countless days and nights at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
It’s because Maisie has been given a smaller, more portable ventilator, which is smart enough to know when she can take her own breaths and when she is likely to require ventilation.
Rachel said it had been a tough time for the family.
She told Sky News: "It's exciting, I'm nervous. It's all new going home. It'll be good to just be a normal family. You don't feel normal being in hospital so long.
"The last three years have been up and down, good and bad. You give up sometimes.
"I thought it might be the end of the road but she pulled through which is great news. I'm looking forward to taking her to the park and to her nan's."
Father Andrew added: "It's been difficult. She was in intensive care going backwards and forwards. Now she's ready to go home it's all been worth it.
"I'm looking forward to seeing her go to school and growing up. We didn't think she'd get to this stage."
Maisie, who turns three on October 23, was transferred from Medway Maritime Hospital up to London when she was three months old.
She has been there for so long that staff at Great Ormond Street threw a leaving party for her. She is due home on Monday.
Ward manager Kate Harkus said it "meant a lot" to staff that Maisie is going home.
“We feel very proud. We've nursed her through rocky times," she said.
"There are very few machines in the world that will be able to support her at home.
"Technology is advancing so much that more companies are coming out with these ventilators that you can manage at home."
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