THE Doherty family, who are featured on the BBC reality show The Estate caring for their disabled daughter, have revealed their reasons behind agreeing to take part in the hit programme.
Jimmy and Denise Doherty want everyone to know what it’s like having a child with a disability because “she is so special and she is our reason for doing the show.”
The hard working parents, who also have a seven-year-old boy called Dylan, were told of their daughter’s spina bifida during Denise’s 20 week pregnancy scan. They were advised to consider a termination.
“I can remember just feeling numb as we walked out the hospital. I had this terrible sinking feeling that wouldn’t go away,” said Denise.
“We didn’t even cry, We just went home and got into bed and held each other.”
But the pair, who were recently shown teaching Lauren to change her own catheter, refused to contemplate a termination. Instead when Lauren was just four days old, they signed the paperwork to have a shunt or drain inserted into their daughter’s head to take away fluid and reduce pressure.
Hydrocephalus is one of the known side-effects of spina-bifida and something which the nine-year-old lives with everyday.
“We have always been told by doctors that a shunt can last ten years or one year,” said Denise. “The first sign we would get is that she would start vomiting so we have to monitor Lauren very closely.
“We live with the knowledge that this could happen at any time. Of course it’s stressful but it’s just something that goes along with Lauren’s condition,” she added.
“People can say what they like but this is our reality. There is nothing made up or exaggerated on the show – it’s just the everyday reality of living with a special child.”
Lauren herself is very much like any other 9-year-old girl, obsessed as she is with all things pink and glittery. Although she has little sensation from the waist down and has some mobility problem she is very much like any other little girl and doesn’t suffer fools gladly!
“Lauren can certainly hold her own. She’s no push over.” laughed Jimmy. “She is so special and she is our reason for doing this show.
“We want to show people what it’s like having a child with a disability. It’s not all doom and gloom. It doesn’t have to be bad.
“Denise and I have heard that there are many people who have abortions when they discover they are carrying a child with Spina Bifida and we would like to show them that there is hope.
“Doctors will always paint the bleakest of pictures or give you the worst case scenario. You don’t have to listen to everything they say.
“Having Lauren changed our lives for the better. She is amazing, he added.”
There has been an explosion in the number of people interested in buying the Doherty family’s house since The Estate went on air, according to the owners.
Jimmy and Denise Doherty have been shown trying to shift their three-bedroom ex-local authority house during the recession with little luck.
They are desperate to move to a bungalow as nine-year-old daughter, Lauren’s condition means she struggles with the stairs.
“We only had a few people looking at the details of our house online until we were on television,” said Denise. “The website has a graph to show how many people have viewed your house and after the first episode ours went off the scale.
“It’s a bit embarrassing to think that hundreds of people across the country are looking at our house online and commenting on our curtains. Hopefully one of them will buy it!”
REPORTS: KIM KELLY