Charity

Meet the teen born weighing just one pound now spreading hope to other premature babies

SPREADING HOPE: Danielle Vassell

SPREADING HOPE: Danielle Vassell

A RECENT survey claimed mothers of premature babies believe their kids have a worse quality of life even when they hit adulthood.

This same study indicated that even the premature babies agree with their parents, saying their life is harder than others born at the full 38 weeks.

However, there’s one young woman who was born weighing one pound and disproves all the findings of that study.

Meet Danielle Vassell, who, at birth, weighed less than a bag of sugar.

She was given a less than a five percent chance of survival when she arrived 27 weeks early at Kings College Hospital in Dulwich, but she defied the odds and is now a 19-year-old setting up a charity to help early babies around the world.

Currently studying Business Management at the University of Roehampton, Danielle agrees it was tough being a premature baby.

Her development was a little slower than others as a child, but as happens in life, she caught up to her peers academically and then excelled.

She even represented her college at the Houses of Parliament on International Women’s Day last year.

“When I was younger I used to find that it would take me longer to write than other children my age, that used to be an issue, but as I got older I grew out of it,” the 19-year-old The Young Empire.

She added: “it’s a blessing, I was told I would be brain damaged and there were problems with my breathing, but the prayers all over the world kept me. I look back at it now and think, ‘wow, it goes to show that what people speak over you won’t necessarily be the outcome’.”

If there was one word to describe Danielle’s journey so far, it’s safe to say it would be ‘overcome’.

Having survived death four times when she was younger, the student is now regularly invited back to Kings College Hospital to speak to parents of premature babies, to help them get through the tough times and give them faith.

“I get invited back to Kings College Hospital by my former health officer Diana she’ll contact me and invite me to meet parents, to share my story and I realise how tiny I was,” she said.

“I was in intensive care for five months and it was such a scary situation for my parents. And when I meet the parents there’s a few tears, as there son or daughter is fighting for their lives, for their survival and you can see the fear.

“But I remind them that I’ve been in the same situation and there is hope, no matter how bad it looks. It’s a blessing to spread hope to others.”

Which is why Danielle and her family have decided to create a charity and clothing company called Little Mites, both of which will help families with early babies.

“My mum, siblings and I founded a charity called Ray of Lively Hope, each month we raise funds for children in the UK and around the world and give the funds to a different charity that supports premature babies.

“We fund raise at church, in our local area and even have a savings jar at home and give that to charity so we can help in any way possible. And the clothing will be for premature babies, it’ll be personalised and have positive words on it, like ‘brave’ and ‘special’, because the words spoken over you can have an effect.”

DANIELLE’S TOP TIPS:

Have faith: My parents prayed and trusted in God. I would say that the prayers kept me, so trust in God, because he can make a way when there’s no way. You don’t have to be religious, anyone can have faith and make a difference, it’s about encouraging yourself and never giving up.

Always believe in yourself: Even when people say bad things about you, remain positive.

Love yourself: If you’re not happy with life or yourself in general, try to learn to love yourself for who you are. Don’t change to what you think other want you to be, try and be the person that makes you happy.

If you’d like to donate to the charity Ray of Lively Hope or for more information on Danielle, visit her blog at http://www.missdvassell.wix.com

WORDS: Hazelann Williams 

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