Baby girl thriving after cricket ball-sized sac removed from spine

Jasmine Cross, 10-months-old, who has spina bifida, is thriving well after having had surgery when s

Jasmine Cross, 10-months-old, who has spina bifida, is thriving well after having had surgery when she was just two-days-old. With her is her mum and dad, Lana and Jimmy, and her brother, Dylan, six. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The parents of a baby girl born with spina bifida have praised their "strong little thing" who is thriving after she was operated on at just two-days-old.

Jasmine Cross, from New Costessey, now aged 10 months, was born at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, on August 26 by a planned caesarean section.

Jasmine Cross, 10-months-old, who has spina bifida, is thriving well after having had surgery when s

Jasmine Cross, 10-months-old, who has spina bifida, is thriving well after having had surgery when she was just two-days-old, pictured with her brother, Dylan, six. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

She had to have a nerve-filled sac, the size of a cricket ball, removed from the bottom of her spine which had grown outside of her body while she was in the womb.

Jasmine Cross from Costessey after she was born on August 26, 2020, with the nerve-filled sac at the bottom of her spine.

Jasmine Cross from Costessey after she was born on August 26, 2020, with the nerve-filled sac at the bottom of her spine. - Credit: Jimmy Cross

The nerves were reattached to her spine and the little girl, who weighed 6lb 5oz at birth and spent her first three weeks at the Rosie Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), has not needed any more surgery or hospital treatment for the incurable condition, according to her parents.

Jasmine Cross after her operation to remove the sac which grew outside her body at the bottom of her spine.

Jasmine Cross after her operation to remove the sac which grew outside her body at the bottom of her spine. - Credit: Jimmy Cross

Her father Jimmy Cross, 45, an IT manager at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: "We feel relief now compared to the first stage when we found out in the 20-week scan that Jasmine had a problem. We thought we would have to think about a termination.

"She is a happy little baby and is starting to roll and crawl. The doctors are fairly confident she will walk okay. Anything could happen at any time as she gets older and she could have lower back pain but the doctors are saying she should have a normal life.

"Jasmine is a strong little thing and we feel very lucky. She loves Peppa Pig and is a very quiet little girl who doesn't cry very much. She loves her big brother." 

Jasmine Cross, from Costessey, aged eight months old.

Jasmine Cross aged eight months old. - Credit: Jimmy Cross

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Spina bifida occurs when a baby's spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.

The neural tube defect starts to form in early pregnancy and closes about four weeks after conception.

Mr Cross, from Sunny Grove, added the support from the Sick Children's Trust was a lifesaver for him and his wife, Lana, 34, because it provided a room for free at Chestnut House  -  a home from home facility in the Rosie - during their daughter's stay on NICU.

He said: "To be able to have that room two floors down from NICU meant we could both chill out a bit together."

One-day-old Jasmine Cross from New Costessey, who was born in August 2020.

Baby Jasmine Cross, from Costessey, who has spina bifida. - Credit: Jimmy Cross

Due to coronavirus restrictions at the time, the couple, who have a six-year-old son called Dylan, could spend four hours a day with their newborn daughter on the ward but the close proximity also meant Mrs Cross could go up and breastfeed whenever her daughter needed milk.

The IT manager said the living quarters prevented any pressures on their finances and wellbeing because if they had not had the room he would have had to pay for a hotel or drive the four-hour round trip every day.

"I want to say a huge, massive thank you the the Sick Children's Trust. It is also amazing what surgeons and medical staff can do. As soon as Jasmine was born there were six or seven nurses around her with an oxygen mask because she needed help with her breathing for the first few hours. The NHS has been unbelievable," he added.

Mr Cross said it was frustrating not being able to be with his wife at some medical appointments due to Covid restrictions but the couple understood the reasoning as some of them were in the height of the pandemic.

One-day-old Jasmine Cross from New Costessey, who was born in August 2020.

One-day-old Jasmine Cross from New Costessey, who was born in August 2020. - Credit: Jimmy Cross

The father-of-two was able to be with his wife after she found out about the spina bifida and at an appointment with a specialist in London when they learnt the positive news that the spina bifida in their daughter was not as serious as it could be due to the position of the sac on the spine.

Mr Cross, who admitted to being a positive person, added the diagnosis caused worry for the family but gave the following advice to other parents going through similar situations.

"Don't give up straight away. Stay positive as well as listen and speak with the specialists because they know best."

Jimmy and Lana Cross with their children Dylan, six, and Jasmine, now aged 10 months.

Jimmy and Lana Cross with their children Dylan, six, and Jasmine, now aged 10 months. - Credit: Jimmy Cross

He recommended parents speaking to people within the Spina Bifida UK Facebook page for support and anyone who had a child with an illness to contact the Sick Children's Trust.

Because of the support the UEA employee wants to raise money for the trust when restrictions are lifted through community fundraisers including snooker events.

For more information visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org and www.shinecharity.org.uk




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