For most new mums, the moment they meet their first born is a momentous occasion but for Karen Heaton, it was the scariest moment of her life.
Her tiny newborn daughter, Bethany, weighed just 1lb 14oz, after being brought into the world by Caesarian section at just 27 weeks.
The life of the newborn was in the balance as she fought for her life in the neo-natal unit at Sharoe Green Hospital, Preston.
But now, Bethany Hines is thriving and today celebrates her 16th birthday.
Mum, Karen, 46, said of the traumatic arrival: “I had been very poorly during the pregnancy and was in hospital for two weeks before Bethany was born and the doctors decided it was better for her to be out.
“We were very scared when she was born, it was touch and go.”
Bethany suffered a brain hemorrhage and lung disease before being allowed to go home after 100 days weighing in at a healthy 6lb 7oz.
Office manager, Karen said: “We were overjoyed when she came home and she was well.
“She could have ended up with all kinds of problems but she’s absolutely fine, the hospital stagff were just fantastic.
“Bethany is into everything, loves music, loves the Arctic Monkeys and wants to travel when she’s left college.”
Bethany, who is currently taking her GCSE’s at Penwortham Priory Academy, will celebrate with her family, including 46-year-old dad, Chris, a self-employed woodworker, at her home on Liverpoool Old Road, Much Hoole.
She said: “I’m going to celebrate with my family.
“I haven’t really asked for anything special for my birthday but I think I’m going to try and save any money that I get.
“I’d like to thank the doctors and nurses for what they did for me.
“I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t looked after me so well.”
The sweet 16-year-old now hopes to go onto college to study on a Health and Social Care course, with ambitions to work either as a counsellor or a social worker.