Little Mark is a miracle baby

THERE were times when Sharon and Keith Eley-Smith feared the odds were so stacked against them that they would never have the baby they longed for.But - after a decade of trying, Sharon's dramatic loss of 11 stone to pave the way for IVF treatment, and the shattering news she had cervical cancer - their precious son Mark was born two months premature, weighing only 3lbs 11ozs.

THERE were times when Sharon and Keith Eley-Smith feared the odds were so stacked against them that they would never have the baby they longed for.

But - after a decade of trying, Sharon's dramatic loss of 11 stone to pave the way for IVF treatment, and the shattering news she had cervical cancer - their precious son Mark was born two months premature, weighing only 3lbs 11ozs.

The tot needed a lumber punch on the day he was born, was treated for meningitis and became jaundiced, needing photo-therapy under a lamp.

As he was so premature, he had not developed his swallowing reflex and was initially fed through a tube through his nose. He became so anaemic at one point that his parents had to consider a blood transfusion before his body “kicked back” and produced more red blood cells.

But, after a week in an incubator and six weeks in Ipswich Hospital, Keith and Sharon were finally able to bring their baby back home to Rushmere St Andrew, near Ipswich.

And now he is a healthy baby, weighing 9lbs 2ozs - and is set to become a minor celebrity tonight when his parents' story is shown on Inside Out on BBC 1.

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Sharon, 38, said: “Some people questioned why we did the BBC programme, as it's so personal, but in a weird way it was fantastic. It got us through the difficult emotions, gave us a focus - it was a welcome distraction to know that our story might help others. It was a hell of an experience.”

The “experience” began in 2004 when Keith, now 41, and Sharon began to realise they were having trouble conceiving naturally.

At 21stone 11lbs Sharon needed to lose weight to make her eligible for IVF. But just as she was doing well with the diet Lighter Life, she found out she had cervical cancer.

Because she wanted a family, surgeons managed to cut the cancerous cells away, avoiding the need to have a full hysterectomy, which would have made pregnancy impossible.

Sharon said: “One thing drove another and my friends said they couldn't believe that I was so focussed. But I had to be or I would have fallen apart. You go into autopilot.

“When I was told I just thought, 'no, you can't come along and do this to me now'. But in an ironic way, although I couldn't believe it was happening, by the same token I was so pleased that it was operable and had been got in time.”

Sharon, who kept a video diary of her dieting, lost a total of 11 stones in nine months. It paved the way for the couple, married since 1990, to start IVF at the world-famous Bourn Hall clinic, Cambridgeshire.

But the first attempt proved successful and, after a blood test on December 19, the couple got the news they had been waiting so long for - a positive pregnancy result.

“We did not know how to contain ourselves,” Sharon said. “It was a Christmas we will never forget. We wanted to go out to the street and shout it to the world.”

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