Published: 06:00, 09 September 2019
When she was born, Teagan Martin’s parents were told she had just 24 hours to live.
Now, 11 years later, the miracle baby is starting her first day at secondary school in Canterbury - a day her parents never thought they would see.
She was born 15 weeks premature, weighing just one pound and six ounces - the same as a box of cereal - and spent the first three months of her life in hospital after being diagnosed at birth with neurofibromatosis (NF) - a rare genetic condition which causes tumours to grow on the nerve endings.
Teagan’s father, Ian, says the family are proud of her for battling through her illness and various complications during her life so far.
He said: “She’s done so well to get this far - she wasn’t meant to be here but she is. We’re well chuffed. We’d had two premature babies already, so we were aware of the complications of the situation. We knew she was going to be tiny so we were to a degree preparing for the worst.
“Other side effects of NF are dyslexia, dyspraxia and other associated learning difficulties. She is very smart in some ways but socially, for example, is struggling.
“Education-wise, she is roughly five years behind. She’s partially sighted and speaks through an iPad.”
Teagan will start in Year 7 at the Canterbury Academy in one of the satellite classes run at the site by the city’s St Nicholas School, which specialises in helping children with learning difficulties and physical disabilities.
“All the support she needs is there,” her dad said.
“I’m also in contact with a charity whose specialities are children with NF so she has constant support both from medical professionals and charities including the Royal National Institute of Blind People.”
“She was very, very lucky and she knows she’s special,” Mr Matin said.
NF affects about 100,000 people throughout the UK and is a hereditary condition caused by a faulty gene leading to uncontrolled growth of the tumours. The condition was passed down to Teagan from her mother, Lisa, who also has NF.
For Teagan, the condition has led to other complications, including learning difficulties and blindness in one eye after tumours developed in the optical nerve.