Born at just 23 weeks, Bella Davison is a little miracle to her Morpeth parents.
When she first entered the world, a week before the legal abortion limit, she weighed just over one pound, but now aged 11 weeks she has more than quadrupled in size.
Her amazing journey has attracted followers from around the world after her mum Vicky Jackson started a blog to chart her progress.
Her regular Facebook posts about her daughter and life on the Special Care Baby Unit at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) was started to give family and friends daily updates on Bella’s condition as she fought for her life.
But they have gathered more and more followers, with messages of support coming in from as far away as Texas in the USA.
Now, as Bella has been moved out of the red ‘critical’ area but remains poorly in the RVI, Vicky and partner Graeme Davison hope that by sharing their story they can raise vital funds for the Tiny Lives Trust, the charity that supports the babies and their families on the unit.
She would also like to raise awareness and debate about premature babies and the 24-week limit when a foetus officially becomes ‘viable’.
Sadly, Bella’s twin sister Sophia was unable to survive, but Vicky and Graeme’s determination to get Bella home, hopefully in time for Christmas, is helping them to focus despite their grief.
Vicky, a barmaid at the Ridley Arms in Stannington, said: “Everything had been going fine until one day I noticed some bleeding so I went to the hospital for a check-up.
“While I was there I went into labour and felt the need to start pushing. ‘You have to stop it,’ I shouted, ‘it’s too soon, I’m only 23 weeks,’ but my waters had broken and there was nothing they could do.”
The twins were born by Caesarian section at Wansbeck General Hospital four months before their due date. Bella came out breathing on her own and was taken straight to the RVI, however, Sophia suffered complications during the birth and doctors were unable to save her.
The couple, both former King Edward VI School pupils, thought they may lose both their daughters when Bella suffered a bleed on the brain when she was one day old.
But thankfully – and possibly in part to the fact that her brain is still developing – she pulled through and doctors are hopeful that no major long-term damage has been caused.
It was two weeks before Vicky, who turned 30 last week, could hold Bella for the first time.
She said: “It was extremely frightening, she was so tiny, her skin was transparent and I had to make sure I kept the ventilators straight in her little mouth. She felt as if she weighed nothing, but it was the best day of my life.
“It’s much better now she is out of the incubator and off the red area, where the most poorly babies stay. We can help with her care and do her feeds.
“She is just our miracle. On paper she is not ‘viable’, but she’s living, breathing proof that babies can survive from 23 weeks. I am so thankful that the doctors gave her a chance.”
Vicky and Graeme, an electrician, say the online support they have received has been a great source of strength and they have started some fund-raising for Tiny Lives.
A charity night at Gala Bingo in Cramlington helped to raise more than £200 and Graeme has promised to carry out a sponsored wax.
Vicky added: “We wanted to raise money for Tiny Lives to say thank you for all its help, but also to try and help save the lives of more premature babies.
“The charity funds research and equipment, but also facilities for the families and support with financial costs like the daily hospital parking charges.”
Further details on Bella’s progress can be seen at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Beautiful-Bella/690845721000889
For more information about the charity, visit www.tinylives.org.uk