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Baby Ayla Improving Everyday

Publish Date
Wednesday, 29 July 2015, 7:22AM

The orphaned daughter of former All Black Jerry Collins is improving every day according to her guardians, who say she is 'thriving' and a 'happy baby' after surviving the horrific car crash which claimed her parents' lives.

New photos of baby Ayla show the four-month-old in the arms of her devoted aunts, who say the little girl is an encouragingly 'big baby' who is growing stronger and 'continues to be a little fighter' according to The Dominion Post.

'She's a big baby and a good eater ... She's a really good sleeper at night and she's a happy baby,' Ayla's aunt Nora Madill said.

She continues to be a little fighter. She truly is a miracle to us.'

The new photos come just days before Ayla's mother, Alana Madill, will finally be laid to rest in Canada.

A funeral service for Ms Madill was delayed until August One so her family and friends could remain in France to care for Ayla which she received care in a French hospital.

Her husband, a celebrated rugby great, was farewelled in an emotional funeral on June 18 in Wellington, New Zealand, where he was remembered as a hero who saved his daughter's life in his dying moments.

Ayla escaped the crash with life-threatening injuries, but the newly released images of the little girl are of hope and promise, as she is nurtured by her mother's family.

In one photograph, Ayla lies sleeping on her aunt Nora's lap, as Nora - Ms Madill's sister - beams up at the camera contentedly.

In the other newly released image of the beautiful little girl, Ayla sits on her Aunt Brenna's lap, eyes wide open as they cuddle in a French hospital in July.

Authorities are investigating if Ayla's mother Alana Madill fell asleep at the wheel as she drove with her husband and 10-week-old daughter to cause the crash which killed the couple instantly in France on June 5.

Police believe Mr Collins, a Samoan-born rugby star, saved his daughter's life by throwing himself over the baby as a bus smashed into their vehicle.

Ayla was taken to Montpellier Hospital in France with bleeding on the brain and then transferred to Winnipeg Children's Hospital in Canda - Ms Madill's homeland - a month later.

The four-month-old settled into her maternal grandparents' home on July 10 to be cared for by the couple, Ruth and Darrell Madill, in Winnipeg in central Canada.

She is expected to need ongoing medical care.

'Ayla continues to make encouraging progress as assessed through comprehensive medical tests undertaken upon her arrival to hospital in Canada; and many follow up appointments are arranged for her over the coming weeks and months to monitor her future health status,' said a statement released by the family earlier this month.

'Current medical opinion is that, sadly, little Ayla will likely suffer ongoing disabilities the full extent of which cannot yet be known. Ayla will need intense ongoing care.'

On Tuesday, Nora Madill says doctors' expectations have not changed but it is still too soon to know definitely what Ayla's condition will be like into the future.

'She's still so little and she's still developing,' Ms Madill told The Dominion Post.

During Mr Collins' funeral service, All Black legend Lomu said the way Collins sacrificed his life for his daughter demonstrated the type of man he was, reported.

'Listening to the reports and what they say about how they found him - that he was protecting his baby - that's just typical Jerry,' Lomu said.

'He was a proud Porirua boy, a proud Samoan, but more importantly he was just a great man.'

Former All Black Chris Masoe said: 'When you realised what was coming and you protected Ayla from the impact with your arms and your whole body over her ... you made it possible for her to have a chance. That's the man you are.'

His father To'omata Frank Collins said it was clear his son was dearly loved, while his uncle spoke on behalf of the family saying that the former rugby union star had left them with a message.

'Life is so sweet and yet so short,' Collins' uncle Fr Lu Collins said, according to the NZ Herald.

'So love the life to the best you can. Do not waste the life you're living now.'

Tim Castle, Collins' manager and close friend told mourners of his fallen mate's ability to connect with anyone despite their age or background.

'He taught us all how to cherish each other and how to value difference,' Mr Castle said.

He described Collins as 'wicked, mischievous young man', and a giant 'with the most gentle and generous inner soul'.

Source- NZ Herald