Aaliyah's story

13th November 2009

Aaliyah's family were proud of their little princess and how she was overcoming being born without a hip. But, tragedy struck in 2009 when she fell ill with meningitis

Aaliyah

Here her grandmother Elaine pays tribute to the brave four-year-old.

"Aaliyah Wells was born on June 17, 2005 at Harold Wood Hospital in Essex. We were all overwhelmed to have this lovely baby who grew into a beautiful little girl. Doctors didn't notice that she was born without a hip but we realised something was wrong when she was starting to try to walk. Doctors told us maybe it was because she had one leg longer than the other and they would have to correct it as she grew older.

"Aaliyah was a gentle little girl, always so sweet. She loved her mum, her two sisters Georgia and Summer and also her little brother Ronnie. She was very loving and very smart for a four-year-old, declaring: "When I get older, I want to be a carer."

In a wheelchair

"After numerous visits to doctors and hospitals due to pain in her leg they did an X-ray and it was then discovered to everyone's surprise she had no hip and her body had grown an extra bone to try to connect itself so an operation was booked at Stanmore Hospital for them to make her one. By now she was in a wheelchair due to pain and tiredness and could only walk with a limp.

"She enjoyed school and made a lot of friends who were willing to help her when she needed it. After her operation she was confined to a bed and wheelchair for many hours but she never complained, she was always jolly. Her friends would visit her, and sometimes a bed was made outside in the garden with all of them around her. She was a little fighter and pushed herself to learn to crawl and then walk again. She was very brave.

"Aaliyah always listened to what you were saying and learnt a lot from us all. She loved drawing and was becoming an excellent little artist. She was a girly girl and loved all the dressing up and would often dress up in old clothes and sometimes Summer's or Georgia's clothes! We think she was training to be a hairdresser because she cut Summer's hair off while they were playing! She also loved singing and dancing and to get on the dance floor, just like her mum.

Good sense of humour

"Aaliyah made sure she spent individual time with everyone - a rare quality for a four-year-old. She had a very good sense of humour and shared jokes and had nicknames for everyone. She made us laugh when she came home from the circus and told everyone she saw the horses with their pyjamas on (talking about the Zebras). Aaliyah was very homely, loved cuddles and her dummy, which she would hide in her pocket at school before she went in but would want first thing when school was finished.

"She loved it when her mum picked her up from school when she was doing half a day. When going with her mum and her friends for a pub lunch, she would say: "Well if no one wants to go, just me and you go mum!"

Back to school

"Aaliyah had just started back to school full time and was walking really well. On Friday, November 13 2009 she attended a wedding where she was dancing and enjoying herself. The following day, at around 12 noon, she started complaining of a headache. Then she was sick and had a temperature so we gave her medicine and a cold flannel on her head. We thought she was coming down with the flu. She had no rash. She was sleeping a lot but we thought all children did when they were ill.

"At around 8pm we tried to wake her but she was not responding. We rushed her to hospital but she deteriorated in the night and was then taken to a special unit at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, where she was put on life support. Sadly, she was pronounced brain dead on Monday, November 16 and the life support was switched off.

"There are so many little things we could say and wonderful memories. Aaliyah, you were a light in our life that has gone out. You were our little princess. We promise that not a day will go by without us thinking of you. You will always be with us in our hearts and you know how much you were loved because we always told you. Rest in peace our little angel."

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