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Birthday boy Bradley, sweeter than sugar

PUBLISHED: 19:15 10 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:53 03 March 2010

SMILER Bradley Dunnett is nine times the size he used to be – but then he was lighter than a bag of sugar.

The tot is approaching his first birthday, after surviving against the odds.

SMILER Bradley Dunnett is nine times the size he used to be – but then he was lighter than a bag of sugar.

The tot is approaching his first birthday, after surviving against the odds.

Bradley was born prematurely, weighing just 1lb 6oz, but thanks to the care he received at Ipswich Hospital's neonatal unit, his fight for life was a winner.

Today his proud mum Ann Meadows is looking forward to his first birthday on May 31, when she will buy him a cake, balloons and presents, and take him back to hospital to celebrate with the nurses who cared for him.

It will be an occasion the doctors feared might never happen, as Bradley battled against a series of health problems with only the smallest of bodies for strength.

Ann, a former secretarial assistant at Willis in Ipswich, and her partner Chris Dunnett, owner of Dunnett Haulage in Felixstowe, had Bradley when she was 42.

But Ann, of Felix Road, Ipswich, said: "He came along very quickly –within weeks. So much for what they say about older mums having difficulties!"

The worry came when a scan at 30 weeks revealed the baby had problems, and he was given a steroid injection to help his lungs.

Ann was kept in hospital and he was born by Caesarian section two days later, nine weeks early.

He promptly lost weight – newborn babies can lose up to ten per cent – and dropped to just 1lb 2oz.

His swollen stomach was treated by antibiotics, and he needed blood transfusions, oxygen, and donor breast milk.

Ann didn't see him for 24 hours as she was confined to a hospital bed away from his.

She had been told he was small, but the sight of his tiny, fragile limbs was still a surprise.

She said: "I knew he was tiny, but I got a real shock when I first went in there.

"I couldn't stay long at first, but when I returned the doctors were in there, so I just burst into tears. It was an emotional time."

She didn't dare dwell on what the future held, and said: "We just took one day at a time."

At one stage, Bradley had to go on a ventilator when he caught a chest infection.

When he only weighed 5lb, he was transferred to hospital in Norwich for a double hernia operation.

He was in hospital for a total of three and half months.

He now weighs 13lb and half an ounce, and Ann admits he is still slow to put on weight.

He still sees a physiotherapist and eye specialist, and a hospital consultant, but Ann is now full of hope for his future.

She said: "The consultant is really pleased with him. Everyone at the hospital has been very good and we would like to thank them all – I don't know what we would have done without them."


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