Toddler takes first steps encouragement of other babies
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Photographer : moodboard
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Group, Of, People, Encouragement, Toddler, First, Steps
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A boy who was born with 12 fingers and 12 toes has taken his first steps just in time for his second birthday - on Christmas Day.
Ryan Edwards was diagnosed with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome – a bone growth disorder that causes dwarfism - while he was still in his mother's womb.
His mum Natasha Williams, 26, was told after a 20-week scan that Ryan's body would probably not develop sufficiently to support his organs and was advised to consider an abortion.
She said: "We only had a weekend to decide what we wanted to do. But I'd already made up my mind that Ryan deserved a chance. If he was going to pass away, I wanted him to go on his own terms.
"It didn't seem right to make that decision for him, before he'd had a chance at life."
Ryan was delivered by emergency caesarean section on Christmas Day 2011 at St Michael's Hospital, Bristol.
Natasha said: "I had a lot of scenarios in my head. There was the worry that once he was born he wouldn't be able to breathe by himself.
"I was incredibly relieved to hear him cry for the first time."
Ellis-van Creveld syndrome is an inherited disorder of bone growth that causes dwarfism. People with the condition have very short arms and legs and a narrow chest.
They usually also have extra fingers and toes. And more than half of babies with the condition are born with a heart defect.
Ryan required round-the-clock ventilation and underwent operations on his heart, and to fit him with tubes to allow him to breathe and digest food, after his birth.
He was in hospital for a year before medical staff allowed Natasha, from Devizes, Wiltshire, to take him home.
Ryan began to pass developmental milestones which doctors had predicted would always be beyond him. He smiled and sat up for the first time in hospital and no longer requires constant ventilation.
This week he amazed his mother by walking for the first time.
Natasha said: "Ryan will have surgery on his hands to remove a finger from each, but his feet will probably stay as they are because correction is not a priority.
"Ryan's a gift. His differences just make him all the more special.
"He walked for the first time just a couple of days ago. I cried when I saw it. Of all the things that doctors said Ryan would never be able to do, I was sure they were right about walking.
"I thought he would never walk, but then he just started, as if he decided it was easy. It was amazing."
Natasha is now raising awareness of Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal for Bristol Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House, Bristol, which provided her with accommodation while Ryan was in hospital.