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“It took so much longer than I thought, but I think as she has got older, she has become more able to understand the fact that she has to eat in order to survive and so she really tries.”

Born 12 weeks prematurely weighing just 2lb and 3oz with a rare congenital disorder, oesophageal atresia, affecting just one in 40,000 children, Tia spent most of her first year in hospital.

“Where she has the learning disability she just takes each day at a time and none of it has really fazed her because she can’t remember any of it, but she does understand now why you need to eat.”

In fact, though Sue was told that Tia would not be able to eat much because of the position of her stomach in her chest, Tia loves a three course meal.

“I like three course meals”, says Tia who goes to The Sheiling School in Ringwood for children with complex learning needs.

“I like scallops, ribs,
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salmon, pizza, fish pie, seabass. I like chocolate mousse, ice cream and jelly for pudding.”

Sue, who lives in Alderholt, laughs: “I say to her you don’t have to eat all of it. I say you can stop now if you want, but she keeps ploughing in.”

Tia, who is a huge One Direction fan, is still under the care of a team of medics who she meets twice a year for review.

She also has regular contact with a dietician who monitors what she eats, her weight and whether Sue needs to give her additional supplements like puddings and shakes high in calories.

Nobody knows why Tia didn’t eat, but Sue says for now she is grateful she can enjoy the simple pleasures of her daughter blowing out the candles of a birthday cake and eating it as well as going out for meals together something many families take for granted.
steel toe dr martens My feeding tube was my lifeline