Parents of disabled girl born after 23 weeks take on charity skydive in aid of Pigs4Kids

Layanne Badr with parents Dahlia and Ahmad. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg.

Layanne Badr with parents Dahlia and Ahmad. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg. - Credit: Archant

A baby born after just 23 weeks faces a huge battle for survival – a fight most ultimately lose.

In July 2008, Layanne Badr and her twin sister Jana came into the world and immediately faced that very challenge. It was a fight for life to which little Jana sadly succumbed, passing away a few hours after birth.

This week, her sister began her second year at Swiss Cottage School Development and Research Centre – a state-of-the-art facility offering children facing a difficult start in life the best possible future.

Since she began at the school, Layanne’s mother Dahlia, 33, has seen an incredible change in her daughter, who spent her first nine months of life in hospital and has cerebral palsy.

She said: “From day one, I was a bit nervous sending her to school because she’d never been left alone without family. But they fell in love with her and she fell in love with them.

“She’s just blossomed into this confident girl who talks and sings and bosses everybody around – she acts like a princess!

“It’s completely changed us. I know she’s somewhere safe and being taken care of. It allowed me to get on with my life and do things for myself. It’s given us a new life.”

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Yesterday, Dahlia and her husband, Ahmad, who live off West Heath Road, Hampstead, were due to jump out of a plane travelling at 15,000ft in aid of their daughter’s school.

The charity skydive has so far raised over £5,000 to support the Ham&High’s Pigs4Kids campaign, which aims to raise £60,000 to help fund the Swiss Cottage school’s world-leading development and research centre in Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage.

For Layanne, the school provides an opportunity to improve her quality of life and independence with exercises aimed at helping her to walk and sit up without the need for assistance.

After she was born, the five-year-old required a number of operations to improve her heart and bowel – which were both under-developed due to her premature birth.

She was left with brain damage after being starved of oxygen in her first minutes of life.

Layanne also required an oxygen tube due to breathing difficulties and a tube to feed her for much of her early life.

“Layanne was really quite sick,” said Dahlia. “She got a few complications and infections along the way which babies are susceptible to because their bodies aren’t fully developed.

“As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your child and you go through a period of denial – not wanting to accept that you have a child who is disabled. It’s the hardest thing anyone can go through in their life.”

It is watching Layanne’s progress at school that has driven her parents’ fundraising efforts.

“It’s all about Layanne – going and seeing how hard she works,” said Dahlia. “Physically they give her goals that she has to try to achieve.

“It makes me think, ‘She’s pushing herself so why can’t I?’ I should be doing something which pushes me out of my comfort zone.

“I felt I wanted to do something in her honour and what better way to honour her than through her school, where she spends all her time and where all her friends are.”

To support Dahlia’s charity skydive in aid of Pigs4Kids, you can donate at