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Jessica’s Journey | Brave Ballymena girl amazes doctors in Great Ormond Street


Jessica Philpott along with mum Julie and dad Lawrie.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. This is going to be an amazing result!” The words of a doctor in London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children when he reviewed Jessica Philpott from Ballymena after her recent surgery.

Slemish College student and passionate Ballymena United supporter, brave Jessica is recovering after major Cranofacial surgery.


The most recent section of Jessica’s journey began when she boarded a plane on Sunday 25 April at 5.25pm, bound for London Heathrow Airport, ahead of her Craniofacial surgery at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, scheduled for the next day.

Jessica was born with Apert Syndrome, a condition that primarily affects skeletal formations.


In the hope of raising awareness of Apert Syndrome and to share updates with Jessica’s many friends, mum Julie and dad Lawrie, help Jessica with a page on Facebook entitled ‘Jessica’s Journey’, where you can follow the family’s ups and downs and twists and turns.


You can find the page at the following link:


https://m.facebook.com/Jessicas-journey-115607700139608/


Here are a few of the families posts that have been documenting brave Jessica’s journey over the last weeks. Make sure to visit Jessica’s page to read more! • 26 APRIL 2021


“Jessica went to theatre at 9am, the hardest thing any parent has to do is walk out of that anaesthetic room, but today was particularly difficult, that’s the last time I’ll see Jessica looking like that, the face that we know and love is being changed as I write this!


“At the minute Lawrie and I both feel pretty numb, it’s going to be a long day as we’ve been told the first update from theatre will be around 5pm.


“I’ve spent some time this morning in the hospital church (pic below)and I suspect I will spend a bit more time in the tranquility of this place throughout the day.


“The surgical team were amazing this morning and I and many others have prayed over these guys this morning. Please continue to uphold Jessica, the team and us in prayer throughout the day.


“We really appreciate ALL of the messages we’ve received so far today , be assured we are reading every one of them and are just amazed at the support we as a family have. THANK YOU!”



26 APRIL


“Surgeons have just been with me. Jessica is still in theatre but almost finished - the surgery went REALLY well and they are delighted with how she’s come through it. They’ve finished well ahead of schedule.


“It will be another couple of hours before I get to see her but just so relieved the main part is over!


“Jessica never ceases to amaze us and once again she’s fought through 9 hours of major surgery!


“A massive thanks to the wonderful surgical team for what they’ve done today but ALL praise and glory to God for carrying us all through today!


“Continue to pray for Jessica as they wake her up and for strength and courage for me as I go to recovery in the next couple of hours to see her.”


26 APRIL


“Jessica is safely back on the ward and amazing everyone!


“She’s just sat up and asked for food! Oh and she’s looking for her present! (Thankfully I managed to get her what she wanted today, or that could’ve all went pear shaped!)


“I am very grateful to everyone that’s messaged / called today! Please continue to pray for a settled night with no complications.


“Someone sent me this last night and I just wanted to share this today, Jessica is a child of God and today He answered the prayers of many for His child - what an awesome God we serve.


“(Psalm 139:13-16)

For you created Jessica's inmost being; you knit Jessica together in Julies womb.

I praise you because Jessica is fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Jessica's frame was not hidden from you when Jessica was made in the secret place, when Jessica was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw Jessica's unformed body; all the days ordained for Jessica were written in your book before one of them came to be.


“Now it’s time for cuddles with my girl, so it’s goodnight from us!”


28 APRIL (DAY 3 UPDATE)


“Today has been the hardest yet, there has been a lot of swelling and bruising today.

Jessica is very weak and pretty much exhausted!


“Her IV line collapsed this morning and we had a bit of an issue getting a new one in, but thankfully we got there!


“There is some leakage of brain fluid, surgeons are not too concerned at the minute and we will just watch and wait for now. They’ve loosened the frame a little to see if that helps.


“She also had the drain removed from her head this morning, so it’s been a busy day for her with a lot of little ‘procedures’ taking place!


“Thank you for your prayers, please continue to pray for Jessica, that each day would see a little more improvement and that she starts to feel more comfortable very soon.”


3 MAY (DAY 8 UPDATE)



“Jessica has asked me to share these pictures today, she said, “Mum you can post a picture so people can get used to me with frame on.” Hopefully it also gives you some idea of what we’ve been through in the last 7 days.


“So yesterday we got the ‘upgrade’ to our own en-suite room, Jessica no longer requires high dependency care!


“It was great to have Lawrie with us for the weekend and to help us with the ‘move’ (we’ve managed to accumulate quite a bit of ‘stuff’ over the last 7 days), but horrible having to say goodbye - looking forward to next weekend already and maybe by that stage Jessica will be allowed a little walk outside (at the minute she’s got a few open wounds so we are confined to the hospital).



“Jessica has started to eat and drink more orally so not requiring as many tube feeds, swelling is going down gradually and continuing to improve daily!!


“Staff here are just amazing and taking extra special care of both of us!


”Today has been a long day, not much happens here on a bank holiday tomorrow though, Jessica will have a CT Scan in the morning, they will then hopefully remove her nasal prongs and start turning the screws on her frame, these screws will be turned 2 times a day for the next 2-3 weeks gradually changing the shape of Jessica’s face!


“Thank you to everyone who’s text , called, sent cards / gifts and prayed us through this first week it’s been absolutely amazing and we are so thankful to have the first week done with no major complications!


“As someone said to me yesterday, “first week done, a road never to be travelled again,” it was tough, there were tears (lots of them), there were good days, there were not so good days but we’ve done it and know that God was with us and will continue to be with us in the days and weeks ahead.


“We may be travelling a difficult road right now but the road some parents are travelling on this ward will have a very different ending to ours, please remember all parents on Koala ward in your prayers this week.


“We’re off now to check out our Deliveroo app to see what we’re having for tea tonight (the hospital canteen on a bank holiday really isn’t doing it for us). God Bless.”



7 MAY (DAY 11 UPDATE)


“Today was day 3 of distraction, her lead surgeon, Professor Dunaway, saw Jessica for the first time since Monday - he was speechless!!


He eventually said:


“I’ve never seen anything like this, this is going to be an amazing result!”


“He asked Jessica if she was in a lot of pain, her nurse said she hasn’t had pain relief in 72 hours, he just shook his head in disbelief!



“We’ve had to put a little ‘bolster’ under Jessica’s nose as after distraction (screw turning) her nose bleeds quite a bit, apparently this is a positive, it proves that her face is moving forward!


“As you can see we spent time ‘decorating’ our room today with the cards & gifts that are still arriving daily - you have no idea how much it lifts our spirits to see our friend from the post room (we can now call her our friend, she visits regularly).



“The weather is pretty poor here at the minute so we can’t get out much (don’t tell Lawrie but we took a sneaky trip to Primark today, we needed some socks!)


“Thanks again to everyone for the amazing love and support being shown to us as a family. Jessica loves reading all of your comments on her page.


“We have also set up a Jessica’s journey Instagram page (a lot of ‘Instagrammers’ we’re asking for updates on there! Instagram - @jessicasjourney_2021.So you can pop on to Instagram and follow us there as well!”



Make sure to follow Jessica’s Journey on Facebook and Instagram, and don’t forget to leave a comment or two to encourage Jessica - she loves to hear from everyone.


Concluding, Julie said: “Awareness of these Craniofacial conditions is key to the future for our children - knowledge is power and by raising awareness through sharing this journey it is my prayer that more and more people will #choosekindnessalways. God bless!”


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