A LITTLE GIRL whose parents were told she would never walk is now running around - after £9k spinal surgery - while still in the womb.

Yate couple Georgia Axford and Tyler Kelly, then just 19 and 21, were told their unborn baby had spina bifida after the 20-week scan.

The condition causes weakness or paralysis in the lower limbs - and the parents were told it was likely their child wouldn't walk.

The couple decided to travel to Germany for treatment, which saw the unborn baby operated on in the womb - at a cost of £9,000.

Piper-Kohl Kelly was then born health in July 2018 - and named after surgeon Dr Thomas Kohl.

Now five, she can walk and run - and has even taken part in her school's sports day.

Mum Georgia, now 24, said: "Seeing her run on the tracks was amazing.

“I never thought she’d be able to do something like that.

“Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. I think back to what we were told, and they were really negative about Piper’s diagnosis.

“We were prepared to give Piper whatever support she needed.

“I can’t believe it – we’re so lucky to see Piper achieve what she does.”

Gazette Series: Piper with mum Georgia Axford and dad Tyler Kelly

Spina bifida can leave sufferers dependent on supports or crutches, and in severe cases, they can be wheelchair-bound.

Doctors were confident that this would be the case for Piper-Kohl, who goes by Piper.

Georgia, from Yate, South Glos., said: "I had Piper at thirty weeks.

“She was in intensive car for 52 days, and then we came home and began living our life like normal.

“Doctors always said there could be a possibility of Piper needing a shunt, so that was a waiting game to see if she was showing signs.

“At about six months, she did have one fitted. She’s had that for the last four years and we’ve never had any problems with it.

“When she was around two, her physio gave her a walking frame – she doesn’t use it anymore, but we have it in case she needs the support.

“She used it for about a year while she was starting to walk, but now she walks completely independently.

Gazette Series: Aged five, Piper can now walk and run - and has even taken part in her school's sports day.

“She does get really tired and can’t go for really long distances, but she does so well, especially considering what we were told."

The family also keep in touch with Dr. Thomas Kohl, the surgeon who performed the miracle surgery – and the namesake for Piper-Kohl.

The pair even share a birthday, with the family providing regular updates when Piper has a milestone.

Georgia said: “I think our experience was a lot easier because of Piper’s surgeon, Thomas Kohl.”

“We still speak to him! Piper’s name is double-barrelled, after him – Piper-Kohl.

“She was actually born on his birthday, which is a really funny coincidence.

“We send him updates a couple of times a year. On their birthday, they always FaceTime or send a message.

“Whenever Piper does something which we didn’t think she was going to be able to do, I send him a quick update.

“He’s always been so lovely to us.”

While the family’s journey hasn’t been easy by any means, Georgia and Tyler are filled with pride over their daughter’s progress – and are hoping to continue to witness her do anything she puts her mind to.

“It hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine,” said Georgia.

“Piper went through a major surgery at six months old and it’s been hard over the years with all her physio and doctors.

“It’s a miracle that she’s been through it and is who she is today. She’s been through a lot in her life.

“She loves colouring and anything to do with arts and crafts. She loves school, and she has a really good group of friends.

“She’s so clever, and she’s such a kind and caring little girl.

“She beats the odds all the time – and whatever she does, I’ll be so proud of her.”