Mum keen to change perceptions of Down syndrome after daughter transformed her life

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 July 2019

Alisha Page with her daughter Willow.    Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Alisha Page with her daughter Willow. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Archant

A Weston mother believes her 'amazing daughter', who has Down's syndrome, can raise awareness of raising a child with the condition.

Alisha Page with her daughter Willow.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONAlisha Page with her daughter Willow. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Alisha Page has revealed how her daughter has transformed her life for the better after figures show a rise in the number of people aborting babies with Down's syndrome.

Alisha was 17 years old when she became pregnant and was given the chance to have a termination when tests revealed her baby had Down's syndrome.

She said: "I was 18 when I had Willow.

"It made me love her even more and it's very sad to know there's an increase in people aborting.

Alisha Page with her daughter Willow.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONAlisha Page with her daughter Willow. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

"She completes my life. She's changed my life for the better.

"I don't know what I'd be without her."

More: Mother and daughter in video to raise awareness of Down syndrome.

Alisha Page with her daughter Willow.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONAlisha Page with her daughter Willow. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Department of Health data shows there were 618 abortions for Down's syndrome in 2018, compared to 436 in 2008.

There has also been a 64 per cent increase in abortions after 24-weeks gestation for the condition since 2017, which is attributed to the private availability of cfDNA testing.

The Government is planning to add cfDNA testing into the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme, which campaigners believe could lead to a big increase in abortions.

Alisha said: "I think it's very upsetting, but I don't think people know what it's like.

"We are trying to change what people think about having a child with Down syndrome."

Willow has had three open heart surgeries and has spent months in hospital recovering. She has a metal valve in her heart, takes medications and has a low immune system.

More: Family use blog to raise awareness of Makaton and Down syndrome.

Alisha added: "There are going to be challenges, but the good outweighs the bad.

"People need to know it's amazing and life-changing.

"I just want to show Willow off. She's just amazing.

"My parents help me so much and I have an amazing network of people who support us. I've met people I never would have met before and made new friends."

The Don't Screen Us Out campaign is urging the Government's health minister Matt Hancock to delay the implementation of the new test until there has been a full consultation and medical reforms have been introduced which address the unresolved ethical issues of screening.

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