Mum tells how chubby-cheeked toddler beat the odds
MACIE Atherton-Andrews' chubby-cheeked smile lights up any room she is in.
Like any toddler, she's wreaking havoc as she finds her feet and giggles when she's causing mischief.
But 18 months ago, shortly after her birth, doctors told her mum Chloe Atherton they were not sure the little one would make it through the night.
Miss Atherton, who has three other children, said there was nothing unusual about the pregnancy.
"She was perfectly developed and there were no issues whatsoever, I just assumed it would be like the three before," she said.
As she went into labour, it felt different and Miss Atherton said a niggling feeling made her think something was wrong.
"When Macie was born, she was what they call an undiagnosed breech. By the time they realised she was breech, I was too far along in labour and had to give birth to her naturally," she said.
"Normally in that situation they would have a c-section. But because no-one realised she was bum down ... no intervention was given.
"She got stuck, and by the time she was born, she had no heart rate and it took 28 minutes to get a pulse."
It was hours before Miss Atherton first held her baby girl. "She stayed in the room until she had a pulse and then they took her to the special care nursery," she said.
"I never got to hold her or anything like that. I was told she needed to go to Townsville and that they didn't know if she would survive the night.
"I wasn't allowed to see her for the first two and a half hours."
Five hours after she gave birth in Mackay, Miss Atherton and Macie boarded a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane to the Townsville Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Care Nursery.
"It took three days for them to say they were 100 per cent certain she would survive. But the expectation was that she would be brain dead."
After eight days, the family saw Macie's MRI results and received good news.
Doctors told Miss Atherton there was not as much brain damage as had been expected but she might never walk or talk.
Because her brain was deprived of oxygen for almost half an hour, Macie lives with serious complications.
She was diagnosed with epilepsy, hypoxia-related brain damage, cerebral palsy and Horner Syndrome. Other undiagnosed complications include sight and hearing loss.
Miss Atherton said the night Macie was born, she looked at her and realised how much of a fighter she would be.
"I mean, she probably should not have survived. 28 minutes is a long time,"
Smart Pups has approved a seizure response dog in January to help Macie's family monitor her seizures.
The not-for-profit organisation supplies special-needs children with dogs that can alert her family about upcoming seizures, in some cases 20 minutes before onset.
"She is starting to move," Miss Atherton said. "So if she is on a playground ... and we can be alerted to something before it happens then we can put her in a safe space."
As most of Macie's seizures happen during her sleep, a "smart pup" would be able to wake the family.
"Sometimes she doesn't wake and, in those cases, unless I am seeing it on a baby monitor I am not going to know she is having one."
A dog like this costs $20,000; a price the family simply can't afford. Because of this, the family has begun to raise funds for Macie's smart pup.
"They won't start training the dog until money is raised and you have 12 months to raise the money," Miss Atherton said.
"It is just such a huge amount of money and so much more than I can expect from friends and family that it is just not going to be possible without asking Mackay to help.
"We could sleep better knowing she is OK."
HELP MACIE'S FAMILY RAISE FUNDS FOR A SEIZURE RESPONSE ASSISTANCE DOG:
Containers for Change:
Anyone who would like to donate their containers for change to Macies campaign can use the ID code : C10121342
You can also donate directly on the Smart Pups website.
All donations over $2 are tax deductible.
Visit this link to donate:
Follow Macie's journey:
If you can't donate but are interested in keeping up-to-date with Macie you can visit Macie's Journey #determination on Facebook.