A mum who was warned the chances of her baby surviving were virtually nil after her waters broke at 23 weeks has hailed her son as “a little miracle” as he celebrates his first birthday.
Baby Zack Ditchfield could not wait to make his arrival into the world but defied medics by pulling through despite spending more than half his first year in hospital and undergoing three major operations in the first few months of his life.
Mum Megan Ditchfield, 22, became concerned when her waters suddenly broke early and it soon became clear Zack was going to be born extremely premature.
Megan, of Penwortham, near Preston, said: “My waters broke suddenly as I was getting out of bed when I was 23 weeks pregnant.
“Doctors told me that Zack would weigh less than 1lb when he was born and the the likelihood of him surviving were virtually zero.
“It was very frightening and I felt heartbroken at the thought of losing my baby.”
Zack was born at 24 weeks at Royal Preston Hospital - weighing 1lb 11oz - just 780g.
Despite a rollercoaster ride, Zack proved doctors wrong by surviving against the odds and his family are thrilled to be marking his first birthday - a milestone they once feared they might never see.
Megan, who also has a four-year-old daughter Daisy May, said: “When Zack was born, he was absolutely tiny and was really skinny and had transparent skin.
“He was the same size as my hand and looked so fragile.”
Megan was kept in hospital for a week after giving birth, but the day after she returned home, she received a telephone call from the hospital telling her that Zack had suffered complications and needed to be transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Megan explained: “Zack had perforated his bowel so he had to have neck-to-neck surgery to join the bowel together when he was just a week old.
“Then they discovered he had a problem with his heart with a hole so he had to go to hospital in Liverpool when he was 10-weeks-old to have surgery to put a clip in between two sections of his heart.
“Zack also had hernias in his testicles and had to have surgery to have them fixed when he was four-months-old.
“Zack also faces surgery in the future as his first operation led to incisional hernias which have popped through his tummy.
“Zack has spent 187 days in hospital so far - 10 weeks in Manchester, two weeks in Liverpool and the rest in Preston.
“But despite everything he has been through, Zack is doing really well and is such a happy, laid back, smiling little boy.
“He is still on lots of daily medication for his kidneys because they weren’t mature and he isn’t sitting up yet.
“However, just days ago, he did his first roll which was a wonderful moment.
“Zach is just such a lovely baby and Daisy May adores her little brother.
“He is our little miracle.”