A baby born a week before the abortion limit, and believed to have been the smallest baby born in Britain last year, is healthy at the age of one.
Weighing just 13 ounces and smaller than a child’s doll, baby Willow Ludden-Brooks fought to overcome her slim chance of survival.
But now at a happy 10lb 8oz she celebrated her first birthday with her overjoyed family.
In England, Scotland and Wales, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Rebecca Brooks, 26, says her daughter “really is a miracle”, adding, “and the best gift we could ever have asked for. We’re appreciating every single moment.”
Miss Brooks’ waters broke just 20 weeks into the pregnancy and doctors at Salford Royal Hospital decided to induce the baby’s birth three weeks later, after Miss Brooks developed a life-threatening infection.
“To everyone’s shock, the baby, a little girl, was breathing. She even let out a muffled cry”, said Miss Brooks.
Miss Brooks and Willow’s father, Andrew Ludden, were glued to her side unsure about whether she would survive.
“To our amazement, she came through the next 24 hours, then the next,” said Miss Brooks. “I was glued to her side at the hospital, willing her on.”
Willow proved herself to be a little fighter. After six months in hospital and several operations she was able to go home weighing 5lb.
Miss Brooks said: “Now, she’s doing really well. She’s still petite, wearing 0-3 month clothes. But the doctors are thrilled with her progress.
“It’s difficult to comprehend that she weighed less than a pound at birth.”
In 2009 two mothers of babies born at 23 weeks both called for the abortion limit to be reduced.
Mum Sam Hawkins said: “It’s spooky to think that Jessica was born at a week before the legal limit and she was a baby and fed and pooed.”
When Jessica Hawkins was born at just 23 weeks she weighed just 1lb 7oz and could fit in the palm of her father’s hand.
Sarah Slater, whose daughter was also born at 23 weeks says Lexie is “living proof” that the law needs updating.
She said: “We’re so glad to have Lexie home with us at last and it just shows how outmoded our laws on abortion are.
“Some mothers-to-be would be able to legally terminate their pregnancy at 23 weeks – yet my Lexie is living proof babies can survive being born so prematurely.
“I never realised a baby would be so well developed at 23 weeks and they do have a chance of life.”
In 2008 during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill MPs voted against lowering the UK’s upper limit for abortion, which stands at 24 weeks.