By Emma Pearson @emma_pear
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Videographer / director: Ruaridh Connellan
Producer: Emma Pearson, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Ian Phillips
Zoe broke several bones whilst she was still in the womb, shattered her collarbone during birth and broke another 100 bones before her first birthday.
Now Zoe, who is six-years-old, has broken almost every bone in her body and was almost internally decapitated after bones in her neck began to wear away.
Zoe’s mum, Chelsea Lush, said: “Zoe is very fragile, she literally breaks in the wind. There have been some close calls but she astonishes us every single day.
“The doctors said she wouldn’t even make it through birth but now she’s coming up to her seventh birthday and she is a loving and happy little girl. We wouldn’t change a thing about her.”
The condition – called Osteogenesis Imperfecta – means that Zoe can break a rib from simply sneezing and a fall can be catastrophic.
The condition is caused by a genetic mutation and affects just one in 50,000 people.
Chelsea, from Huntington Beach, California, was just 20-years-old when she fell pregnant and doctors advised her to abort the baby.
Chelsea said: “We were doing 4D ultrasound and they were able to see her multiple fractures that were fresh and healing already.
“She had broken ribs, the arms and legs were about six weeks behind what they should have been and they told us that she had very severe condition and that she possibly wouldn’t make it until her birth date.”
Chelsea went against medical advice and gave birth to Zoe by cesarean section in October 2010.
Zoe broke her collarbone during delivery and was born with multiple healing fractures.
She stayed in the hospital for a week where she received an IV treatment called a ‘pamidronate’, which helped to strengthen the bones and was a major component in reducing that fractures.
But the early days were not without their challenges for the new parents.
Curtis said: “When we were changing Zoe’s diapers in the beginning it took three of us.
“One person to lift her pelvis, one person to slide the diaper in an out and then another person to hold her arms because babies have startle reflex.
“I was on arms duty and she startled in to my hand. Her radius just snapped - It sounded like a broken chicken bone. We had to learn a lot, very quickly.”
Zoe’s bones break so often that Chelsea, 27, and Zoe’s dad, Curtis Lush, 28, have learned to splint the fractures themselves.
In her early years Zoe would break a bone about once a week.
Curtis, a surgical technologist, said: “Zoe has broken countless amount of bones - we stopped counting at a 100 at around her first birthday.
“We used to keep a list because we go to a yearly clinic where we had to update them but we stopped counting because it was pointless – we knew she would be breaking bones for the rest of her life.”
Now Zoe attends physical therapy, and her strengthening muscles have began to somewhat protect her bones, meaning the fractures are less frequent than they once were.
She has also had metal rods inserted into her limbs and in July 2016 she had a cervical spinal fusion and has since worn a neck brace, which will be removed later this month.
But despite the challenges she faces daily, Zoe is a bright and happy child who enjoys baking, painting, and playing with her three-year-old brother, Felix.
Chelsea said: “Zoe is a social butterfly with all of the other kids. She doesn’t notice any differences that they see and she will make friends with everyone that she meets
“She is able to do every other thing that other kids are, other than run on their feet but she can race them just as fast in her wheelchair.”
Although OI is incurable, Zoe has a wonderful quality of life, and her parents hope that research will give her a brighter future.
Chelsea said: “I would not change Zoe and I would never ever take anything back. I know it’s hard for her but every human goes through hard things.
“This is just her case and I think the OI makes her the special and compassionate person that she is.
“In the future I hope she has the same opportunities as everyone else and above everything I just want her to be happy.”
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