A young Leeds couple has welcomed home their daughter, who was born 13 weeks premature, after a six-month ordeal.
Zowie Lyons, 25, from Horsforth, was six months pregnant in Spain with partner Sam Hilton, 20, on a visit to his family in January, when she began experiencing stomach pains, was rushed to hospital and gave birth to 2lb 2oz baby Ellizeah.
The unexpected arrival left the couple, who only had European Health Insurance Cards to cover treatment, being forced to spend thousands of pounds to stay at their frail daughter’s side as embassy officials refused to help them return to Leeds.
As the couple were offered accommodation at an Alicante homeless shelter, hundreds of Leeds residents backed a £12,000 fundraising campaign organised by 96.3 Radio Aire’s Cash for Kids charity to help bring the family home.
Zowie, who was also diagnosed with gallstones following the emergency Caesarian birth, told the YEP: “We are tired, it’s kind of scary that she depends on us now.
“When we got her home it felt like I had just had her again, it was like that whole giving birth experience came flashing back.”
After radio listeners raised the money, including one kind donor who stumped up around £6,000, the couple brought Ellizeah home by aeroplane and she was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary in April.
Discharged from LGI last week still only weighing 8lb 12oz, she has spent a total of 21 weeks in hospitals since her birth.
Paying tribute to donors, Zowie added: “If it wasn’t for them, we would probably still be in Spain.”
Radio Aire breakfast show hosts Rich Williams and Naomi Kent, who repeatedly featured the appeal on their show, met with the family for the first time at the station’s Burley Road studios yesterday.
Rich said: “It kind of felt like everyone in Leeds was thinking about them over in Spain.
“We have heard so much about Ellizeah, it’s nice to meet her. It’s so nice that everything’s come together.”