A FUNERAL was held yesterday for an eight-month-old girl after she lost her fight for life.

Ava Ann Andrews passed away in her father’s arms on September 1 – eight months after being born prematurely with her bowel outside her body.

Her heartbroken parents Leanne Willmore and Nick Andrews, of Ellesmere Port, said goodbye to Ava at St Thomas and All Saints, Whitby Road, followed by a service at Chester Crematorium in Blacon.

In a post on his Facebook page, Nick wrote: “She will be sadly missed but I look at her pictures and cry but then end up smiling… and that’s all she did in her short life smile… see you soon baby X.”

Ava had arrived three weeks premature, weighing just 3lb 11oz, on January 3. She had a complication called gastroschisis that meant her bowel was on the outside of her body.

Her parents, Leanne and Nick, had hoped the operation to rectify the disorder would be a simple one, and that Ava would be back home with them in a fortnight.

But things took a dramatic turn for the worse when Ava’s bowel was perforated during an emergency Caesarian section at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

The couple, both 24, watched helplessly as Ava was rushed to intensive care, where she was given two blood transfusions.

When medics eventually stabilised her, Ava was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where she had received round-the-clock specialised care ever since.

The couple, who attended Whitby High School together, lived in the Ronald McDonald House adjacent to the hospital so they could be by their baby’s side.

Nick, who works at Vauxhall, commuted to the plant for day and night shifts while Leanne stayed with her daughter.

Ava could not digest food normally and was fed intravenously with a formula which contains all the nutrients she needed to survive. But that formula left tiny Ava with a liver disease, a common result of extended use of the formula.

Ava was christened on August 18 at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Ava’s godfather, Ellesmere Port boxer Paul Butler, took to Twitter to express his sorrow.

He wrote: “Absolutely devastated, life's cruel at times. Why so young?”

Two days later, he added: “Said me goodbyes to a special little girl today Ava, she looked so peaceful with a little smile on her face RIP your in no pain now #Sad.”

While Ava had been receiving treatment, her parents and their friends and family helped to raise money for both Alder Hey and Ronald McDonald House.

In April a football match was held at The Grove Sports and Social Club which raised £3,643 on the night.