Alfie's birthday is a real milestone

BABY Alfie is today enjoying a special milestone doctors did not think he would reach.

BABY Alfie is today enjoying a special milestone doctors did not think he would reach.

The tiny tot was given little hope of survival when he was born dangerously prematurely at 23 weeks and weighing just 1lb and 3ozs.

But he has overcome his traumatic start to life - and has just celebrated his first birthday with his proud mum and dad.

His parents, Emily Winlow and Dean Cook, spent the day helping Alfie open his presents.


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Miss Winlow, 17, a former Stoke High School pupil, said: “It was one of the happiest days of my life. We bought him a baby walker for his birthday, but he was more interested in the wrapping paper!

“This time last year, doctors were telling us he wasn't going to make it, but here he his smiling and giggling. He is such a beautiful little boy.”

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The young couple, who live in Britannia Road, feared lightning was going to strike twice when Miss Winlow went into early labour with their second child.

During a routine check-up, doctors noticed there was a real threat that she could give birth dangerously early once again.

But they carried out a successful operation to pin her cervix and she is now on course for the due date on October 12.

She said: “I burst into tears when they told me. It felt like my world was caving in again.

“The operation was very painful, but I did it to save the life of my child. The hospital did an amazing job in preventing it.”

Mr Cook, 19, added: “We had to be prepared for the worst. We just had to go stage by stage so we are really happy to be where we are now.”

While making good progress with his development, Alfie currently requires constant oxygen to help with lung problems and he has also been left with hearing problems.

Doctors have told the family they may not be able to give them a full prognosis until Alfie is five years old.

Bindy Price, head matron of the children's service at Ipswich Hospital, said: “It is lovely to hear how well Alfie is doing and we would like to wish him a very happy birthday from all the staff at the maternity unity.”

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Alfie was one of the youngest premature babies to have been born at Ipswich Hospital when Miss Winlow gave birth on September 17 last year.

He spent many months under constant care in hospital before finally being allowed home in June.

Miss Winlow said: “It was so hard and frustrating. We used to see people walking around town with their buggies and we didn't have that.

“Alfie was well enough to smile and wriggle around, but we couldn't take him out to show him off.”

His parents spoke to The Evening Star of their ordeal last October as his battle for life was being played out 50 miles away.

He was transferred to a specialist unit in Norwich because Ipswich Hospital does not have the facilities to look after such a tiny baby.

Miss Winlow said: “We nearly lost him. That was terrifying as it takes time getting up there and it would have been better if he could have stayed at home in the town.”

She praised the care she received at Ipswich Hospital and has since called for more investment to upgrade the maternity unit so it can deal with the sickest babies.

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