ADORABLE Liv Unwin has been dubbed “Liv the Legend” after defying the odds to speak her first words.
Battling Liv was found to be deaf and unable to speak after being born three months premature and during one frantic night stopped breathing five times.
But amazingly she has uttered her first word, which was “quack” the noise of her favourite animal a duck, and can now say mum and the name of her brother Brogan.
After overcoming her new-born battles, Liv was dealt another cruel blow when she was diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD), a rare hearing loss condition.
Her adoring mum, Nicola Gibson, 35, was told there was a real chance her daughter would never hear or speak.
But now, at just three years old, Liv has beat the odds yet again and has periods where she picks sounds and words up quite clearly and has even started to speak single words.
Proud mum, Nicola, beamed: “We call her Liv the legend because she beats every single barrier that is put in front of her.
“My biggest fear was that Liv would never hear us say ‘I love you’, but she does and it’s fantastic.
“She’s just an amazing little girl with a huge future.”
ANSD is a hearing disorder where sound enters the inner ear normally, but the transmission of signals to the brain is impaired.
The condition is still not yet fully understood and Nicola admits getting to grips with it and learning more was tough.
“We were a typical family who knew nothing about this sort of thing,” admitted Nicola, who lives in the Rossmere area and is also a mum of Brogan Unwin, 10.
“To be honest, we were a little bit ignorant of deaf people, as I think most people are because they don’t know much about it.”
Being dealt a blow about her adorable new-born daughter was nothing new for Nicola. She had seen Liv battle from the day she was born as her premature birth led to her lungs being extremely under-developed.
“Finding out she had ANSD was something we had get used to, but it was a small price to pay to have my daughter home and healthy,” said Nicola who works at the Sainsbury’s Middle Warren store, on the Bishop Cuthbert estate.
“I have a beautiful, happy, healthy little girl and she’s been inspiring to me as a mum and to the whole family.”
Liv is developing extremely well thanks to the help of expert teachers at Sunnyside Primary School, in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, which has a base for hearing impaired and deaf children.
Liv and Nicola have also received “amazing” support from the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).
“Liv’s hearing varies from day to day, from minute to minute,” explained Nicola.
“She can have 20 minutes where she can hear and then she could have a bad 20 minutes. She does get lost in things, if you ask her what her name is she might only pick up ‘your’ or ‘name’ but realistically she’s doing absolutely fantastic and she’s getting better all of the time.
“For a child who we thought might never hear and a child who we thought might never speak, she’s doing incredibly well considering she’s only three years old.”
Liv’s confidence led to her recently joining the Northern School of Music, based in Hartlepool’s Church Square, which Nicola said has brought her out even more.
“She’s very confident, very happy and very outgoing and I am so, so proud of her achievements,” added Nicola.
“She’s come over such big barriers in her life and I’m sure nothing will stop her achieving what she wants to achieve.”