EVERY parent cherishes the moment they hear their baby’s first word.

But when 18-month-old Megan Whyte called out ”Mum” for the first time it was particularly special for mother, Cassy Gray, after she was told it would never happen.

Doctors warned her that Megan “was incompatible with life” after a routine scan 12 weeks into her pregnancy revealed her unborn baby’s brain had failed to develop normally.

The front area, which controls thinking, emotions and motor skills, had failed to split into two hemispheres, leaving it unable to grow.

Miss Gray, from Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was “strongly advised” to terminate, even at 24 weeks - the legal abortion cut-off limit. And five days before her baby was born, she was told scans showed Megan - who was given just a three per cent chance of surviving birth - “had open wounds on her face, no cheekbones and her eyes were bulging”.

But now as she cradles her “miracle” baby she knows she was right not to give up on her.

Miss Gray, 36, said: “When she was born I was scared to look at her because of the picture they had painted. I knew I would love her, but I just didn’t know if I would like the way she looked. But as soon as she was born I remember saying to her dad, ‘There’s nothing wrong with her’.

“Now I can’t believe the strong personality she has coming through. She smiles through everything and is a cheeky wee monkey.”

Megan has a rare condition called semilobar holoprosencephaly, which meant her brain stopped developing in her mother’s womb at five weeks gestation.

It affects just one in 16,000 live born babies and has left her with a smaller shaped head than her peers. She is also blind, has three kidneys, epilepsy and diabetes insipidus, a rare condition that causes an imbalance of fluids in the body.

Miss Gray and Megan’s father, Zander Whyte, 65, who have now separated, were warned there was a “97% chance she would be stillborn and would not be compatible with life”.

But, despite the bleak odds, Megan “gave a cry” when she was born and astounded medics by being able to breathe on her own, with only the help of oxygen as a precaution.

And just weeks after her first birthday, her proud mother woke up to a sound she feared she would never hear - the voice of her daughter calling “Mum”.

Miss Gray, a former head chef, said: “It was really emotional, I didn’t think I would ever hear her say it. In the morning, she’s always vocal. She just shouts - no words in particular - and then she kept saying, ‘Mum. Mum’, telling me to get up.

“There are no other words - she’s just amazing.”

Since then Megan has added the word “Nana” to her vocabulary, to the delight of doting grandmother Alexandra Thompson, 56.

Miss Gray knows the future is uncertain and Megan is now on oxygen at night following surgery to insert stents in her nose to keep her airways open.

But the brave tot has proven doctors wrong with every prediction so far and has amazed everyone with her zest to survive.

Miss Gray said: “Just before they took me to theatre to have her, I was asked if I wanted comfort care or everything done. I said I couldn’t make that decision until I had seen her.

“So I told them to attempt to resuscitate her once and if there was no response to leave her. I was obviously not going to give up on her without seeing her, but I didn’t want her to go through more than she needed to.

“But they didn’t need to, she gave a cry when she was born and was breathing. She didn’t need life support or anything like that.

“All through my pregnancy I thought I would be going home without a baby, then they came and told me how well she was doing. It was surreal.

“She obviously has a brain condition but she is certainly not incompatible with life”

Remarkably, Megan was in the neonatal intensive care unit at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital for just two days after she was delivered by emergency caesarean section six weeks early, weighing a healthy 5lb 12oz, and she was home just five weeks later.

She then went on to beat the 50:50 odds to make it to her first birthday and is doing more than her mother or medics ever expected.

Miss Gray said: “I just thought her brain wouldn’t work. But she knows when she is happy and sad, she can communicate in her own way and she eats orally. She always seems really happy and definitely understands what’s going on.”

Like many babies her age she has also developed a “hatred of getting her hair brushed”, she has a love of music - and is about to become a big sister.

Miss Gray, who is 22 weeks pregnant with her second child, said: “She’s proof there is always hope."

“A neurologist in Glasgow asked if she could smile and I said ‘yes’, then she smiled on cue, and he said ‘it takes a lot more brain function to smile than it does to do a lot of other things’.”

Miss Gray had never heard of the condition when she was given the devastating diagnosis just 12 weeks into her pregnancy.

There was little information available locally and she said after searching the condition online it seemed like there was “no hope”.

It was only after joining a group on social media that she realised it wasn’t a death sentence.

She said: “There are some people who are on it with kids who are in their 30s, and they are all different.

“Megan is showing a willingness to try and move and turn over. She’s never known sight so I don’t think that affects her like it affects me. But if she walks when she’s 10, then she walks when she’s 10. It’s not about how long it takes her, it’s about if and when she does it.

“Holoprosencephaly doesn’t go by a book - they all write their own stories - and there is always hope.”

She added: “We decided right away that termination was not an option. I’m not religious but I thought if God wants Megan, he’ll take Megan; if she was going to die, she’d die in her own time - I wasn’t going to take it from her.

“I’m just glad my desire to have a family was stronger than me listening to what the doctors were saying.

“She’s a miracle.”