When Sam Hodgson was born 14 weeks early, weighing just 1lb 15oz, doctors feared he may not survive.
He spent the first four months of his life in hospital and underwent a heart operation when he was just weeks old.
But today the miracle baby will celebrate a milestone his parents once feared he may never see - his 18th birthday.
Mum Sandra, 51, who works for HMRC, said: “We never thought we would get there early on.
“When you look back you don’t realise what you have been through.
“He was in hospital from January 7. He should have been born on April 17, he came home on April 30.
“When he was born it was 50/50, they didn’t know which way he was going to go.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen. As you get older you put it to the back of your mind - it was a living nightmare.”
As well as a heart operation Sam also had to two hernia operations.
“He was really poorly (after his heart operation). It was touch and go. He kept stopping breathing. That’s when they told us it’s time to get a priest in.”
When Sam went home in April 1996 he got chicken pox, then an infection and then pneumonia but once again he pulled through.
Sam who went on to attend Lostock Hall Juniors and then Lostock Hall High School has turned into a healthy young man.
Sandra added: “He was right rough and ready. A proper little boy. He had quite bad asthma for a while but it cleared up when he was two and a half. You wouldn’t know at all now. He is probably a lot bigger now than other lads his age.”
Dad Martin, 51, a technical services manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, added: “I am very proud. At the time when it was all happening it was probably the last thing we were thinking of.
“I am proud of how he has turned out. He is a good lad.”
Sam, who works for Lancashire County Council as an apprentice in civil engineering, will celebrate the milestone birthday with his family, including sister Sarah, 22. And he is also planning to mark another milestone - having his first pint.
He said: “I have always said to my Grandad Norman, since I was about 13, that I would go for my first pint with him on the Sunday after my 18th birthday. We are just going to have a quiet pint.”