A little boy who was born three months premature after his mum was repeatedly told to abort him has bounced back to celebrate his first birthday.
Doctors warned Freddie-Lee Lofthouse would almost certainly be born with birth defects.
But despite him spending the first three months of his life in intensive care and undergoing life-changing surgery when his bowels exploded, he’s battled back to become a happy and healthy one-year-old.
His mum Stacey Dickinson, 31, of Tulketh Road, Ashton, said: “They said Freddie-Lee would have Down’s Syndrome, or short limbs, or that he wouldn’t survive because I was diabetic.
“Right up to 29 weeks they were trying to make me get rid of him because they said he would not survive.
“It got to the stage where I didn’t want to go to anti-natal classes because I knew they would keep trying to convince me to have an abortion.
I wasn’t allowed to hold him but I would sit with my arm in his incubator and he would grab hold of my finger.
“I thought, that’s my son and if he’s going to be downs syndrome or have something wrong with him, he’ll still be my son and I’m still going to look after him.
“I knew he was going to be OK, it’s a mother’s instinct.”
After four successful pregnancies, Stacey previously gave birth to Britney, 13, Harry, 12, Tia, 11 and Alfie Lofthouse, 10, without any difficulties.
But she and partner Russell Lofthouse, 34, were then told she wouldn’t be able to conceive again due to suffering from diabetes.
“After the fourth they said I wouldn’t be able to conceive because I was diabetic,” she said.
“We stopped thinking about it. We didn’t use contraception for ten years because we didn’t think it would happen so when I found out I was pregnant, it was a huge shock.
“I just kept saying, ‘wow’, I couldn’t believe it. From that point, I knew our baby was going to be special.”
But throughout her pregnancy, Stacey was repeatedly told her baby was likely to be born with difficulties, despite tests revealing he only stood a 1 in 7,000 chance.
Full-time mum Stacey, from Preston, said: “All my other pregnancies had been plain sailing and my children were all 8lb babies so I didn’t believe Freddie-Lee would be any different.
“I went into hospital when I was 29 weeks pregnant for a steroid injection and I was in for a couple of days before they gave me a scan.
“They said the placenta wasn’t pumping blood through property and told me I needed an emergency caesarean.
“It was three months early and I wasn’t ready at all because I didn’t expect them to rush me down to theatre.
“I was quite scared. All the way up there they still said there were going to be problems.”
When she awoke from the caesarean on September 26 last year, Freddie-Lee had been taken to a neo-natal care unit, and she had only a photograph to see him for the first 24 hours of his life.
Freddie-Lee weighed only 2lb 2oz - his head was the size of a tangerine and his whole body was the same size as Stacey’s hand.
Stacey said: “I didn’t get to see him until the next day because they rushed him off to a different unit and my oxygen levels were up and down so they had to monitor me.
“When he came out they did some tests and looked at his limbs and they realised he was OK, despite everything they’d told me.
“I was back with him a couple of days later.
“I wasn’t allowed to hold him but I would sit with my arm in his incubator and he would grab hold of my finger.”
Doctors at Royal Preston Hospital were forced to admit there was nothing wrong with Freddie-Lee, apart from needing to gain strength as he was premature.
But weeks later, Stacey noticed Freddie-Lee’s stomach beginning to swell and this time found herself warning doctors something was not right.
Her worries fell on deaf ears and it was only when she demanded to see another medic and he started to turn black, that she was listened to.
Stacey said: “We had kept questioning it but they just said it was OK. If we had not pushed he would not have survived.
“A different doctor saw him and did an X-ray where they realised his bowels had exploded.
“His stomach was black and he looked like he had a rugby ball inside him.
“He had swollen up that much that his bowel was pushing up against his lungs and he was starting to have trouble breathing.
“The surgeon told us that if he was left much longer, it would have been a different story.”
Freddie-Lee was transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital where he underwent a five-hour operation to stitch his bowels back together.
He was fitted with stomas and Stacey had to syringe excrement out of his tiny body to try and stop further damage to his bowels.
“I had to syringe it out the bag and syringe the hole to keep it healthy,” said Stacey.
“Everytime he went to the toilet, I had to constantly do it, otherwise he would have lost parts of his bowel.”
Eventually Freddie-Lee was transferred back to Royal Preston Hospital, where he was discharged from on December 11 last year - which coincidentally turned out to be his due date.
Since then he has been back to have his stoma reversed, and he’s had no further health problems.
He’s also hit each and every milestone, despite still only weighing 17lb.
Stacey said: “It was lovely to bring him home, it was a day to remember.
“They said he would be behind and wouldn’t be able to walk and he’s proven everyone wrong.
“He’s crawling, he’s talking, he stands up and he feeds himself.
“I took him to see the doctor and she could not believe he could sit up on his own and play.
“I think it’s because I’ve got other children and he gets a lot of attention.
“He’s a true miracle and a fighter. He’s absolutely amazing.”
• Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would never tell any of our patients to abort their pregnancies. It is however our responsibility to fully explain all the risks and options to enable people to make a fully informed choice.
“We are pleased to hear that Freddie-Lee is doing well, and encourage the family to contact our Customer Care department if they wish to discuss their concerns directly with us.”