A PAIR of Beith siblings who between them have battled blindness, cancer and meningitis have been chosen to go on the trip of a lifetime.

Amy McKenzie, 15, and her brother Scott, 10, flew out to Florida at the weekend on the British Airway’s Dreamflight after being two of 200 children across the UK picked to go on the trip.

The youngsters’ mum Gillian McKenzie said she “burst into tears” when she found out they were chosen after years of battling debilitating illness after they were both born prematurely.

Amy was born in September 2004 at 24 weeks, weighing just 1lb 11oz. When she was just four-and-a-half-months old doctors told her devastated parents she was permanently blind in both eyes.

Gillian, who also has two other children, Daniel, 24, and Lauren, 19, said: “They told us that she could have a problem because she was born so early but then after they tested them they told us that she was almost certainly blind in one eye because her optic nerves had snapped and her retina had detached. We had to wait for six weeks until she could have eye surgery and when she finally did they told us that she was blind in both eyes.”

Just five years later Gillian and husband Scott, 42, were delighted to discover they were expecting their fourth child. However, Gillian was shocked to learn that following a routine smear test just weeks before she discovered she was pregnant, she would need to get treatment for precancerous cells.

She said: “They said it could complicate things with the baby. because I needed to get treatment for the cells but I just knew I was going forward with the pregnancy.”

Following treatment for the precancerous cells, Gillian’s waters broke when she was 26 weeks pregnant, but she managed to hold on until week 30, when she went in to labour with Scott. He was born in October 2009, 10 weeks early, weighing just 3lbs 2oz.

But the tiny tot’s battle for survival was just beginning when, at just six weeks-old he contracted meningitus. After surviving the potentially-fatal infection the family were struck with another devastating blow when they discovered that Scott, then aged two, had stage four neuroblastoma.

Gillian said: “We couldn’t believe it. He survived meningitis then was diagnosed with cancer. It was cruel. We asked doctors to be honest and tell us what his chances were. They said not good, it was unlikely he would survive, but there was a small chance. We just said ‘So there is a chance, well that gives us hope’, and we clung to that. We just took each day as it came and tried to get through it for Scott.”

Scott is now 10-years-old and in remission after years of gruelling chemotherapy and operations, however the treatments have left the schoolboy with permanent brain damage.

Gillian says to have two of her children nominated by their doctors for the Dreamflight experience was “unbelievable” and although she was apprehensive about them going without her, she was thrilled they have the opportunity.

She said: “It will be an amazing experience for them so we had to just put our own parental fears aside. I just burst out crying when we found out they would both be going. What an amazing experience for my babies.

“They have been through so much and are still battling, but at least my kids are still here. I know some parents aren’t lucky enough to say that.”