A magical experience

Lauren Cosgrove from Scotland was born with a terrible illness that affects everything she does. That's why she's had to spend a lot of time in hospital and be fitted with a tube to keep her alive.

Born 27 weeks into the pregnancy, she weighed a mere two pounds at birth and spent the first year of her life in hospital; it took a lot of love and affection to get the frail infant through this difficult time. While under medical care, doctors discovered what was making her so ill and weak.

Watch the following video to relive Lauren's story and see more pictures from her magical day on the shores of Loch Lomond:

She was diagnosed with short bowel syndrome (sometimes known as short gut syndrome), meaning a large part of her small intestine was missing. Unfortunately, her body can't absorb nutrients properly and she has to be hooked up to a feeding tube — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She's already had to undergo many operations, leaving her exhausted and in chronic pain.

Lauren fought through these difficulties bravely and, like any young child, had a fertile imagination. Developing a strong liking for mermaids, her greatest wish was to come face to face with one of her storybook heroines someday.

In the hospital, she began drawing pictures of these magical creatures. When a nurse noticed this, she organized a trip to the aquarium for the young girl — or at least that's what Lauren thought. Instead, she was in for the surprise of her life.

On the day of the trip, Lauren's parents gave her a small mermaid costume to wear and drove their daughter to Loch Lomond, a lake in the Scottish Highlands. As the young girl was walking along the shore, something in the water suddenly started approaching her.

At first, Lauren couldn't believe her eyes: a mermaid appeared from the depths of the lake and swam in her direction. The little girl became very excited when she realized who was coming towards her. Now lying on the shore, the mystical creature taught Lauren several spells and talked about the role of mermaids in the ocean; a delighted Lauren even received a magical pearl necklace from her new friend.

This is certainly a day that young Lauren will never forget. The British children's charity "Rays of Sunshine" and their partners "Domino’s Pizza" covered the costs for her magical experience at the lake.