The proud mum of a miracle Ipswich baby who spent the first seven months of her life in hospital said her daughter is recovering well after “smashing” her second major surgery.

When the Ipswich Star first met Winnie-Rae Southgate, she had just come home after a 204-day stay first at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, then Ipswich Hospital.

Winnie-Rae was born on October 10, 2022, at 13 weeks early. She weighed just one pound, two ounces – the same as half a bag of sugar.

Ipswich Star: While she may be small, Winnie-Rae is certainly a fighter.While she may be small, Winnie-Rae is certainly a fighter. (Image: Family of Winnie-Rae Southgate)

Ipswich Star: Winnie-Rae Southgate with her parents, Ke’Anne Holroyd and Ash Southgate. Image: SuppliedWinnie-Rae Southgate with her parents, Ke’Anne Holroyd and Ash Southgate. Image: Supplied (Image: Supplied)

While doctors were initially concerned, Winnie-Rae has been a fighter since the day she was born. She battled chronic lung disease and metabolic bone disease, a large PDA (hole in the heart), Klebsiella sepsis, but made huge steps with her parents, Ke’Anne Holroyd and Ash Southgate, by her side.

Winnie-Rae was finally allowed home on May 2 last year.

“Bringing her home was amazing,” said proud mum Ke’Anne. “It was something we never thought we’d get to see as a family.”

Getting to take Winnie-Rae outside to see the world around her has been particularly special.

While she is still small, wearing clothes for babies aged three to six months, the now 15-month-old Winnie-Rae is continuing to thrive.

Last Thursday, she underwent her second major surgery to reverse her stoma surgery. A stoma is an opening in the abdomen which allows waste to be collected in a bag outside the body.

Winnie-Rae was in theatre for six hours while surgeons removed her intestines from her stomach, as they were stuck to her stomach wall in 40 to 50 places. Winnie-Rae also had two hernias removed during the procedure.

However, she has been recovering well, and it is hoped that she will be allowed home in the days to come.

“We’re going to be able to do so much more with her now,” said Ke’Anne. Activities like swimming, for example, are going to be much easier without the added struggle of managing the stoma bag.

She is sure her little girl will continue to blossom.

“She’s so cheeky!” said Ke’Anne. “She’s such a happy girl, and so resilient – I don’t know how she does it!”

She joked that she had hoped to take Winnie-Rae to Disneyland at the end of the month to celebrate her homecoming and Ke’Anne’s own birthday – but this may have to wait until next year.