Teenage birthday celebrations were extra special for a South Tyneside schoolboy who doctors feared would survive only a matter of hours after being born.
Leejay Wood weighed little more than a pound when he was born three months early and was given just a 30% chance of survival when he made his early arrival into the world on December 30, 2002.
Despite being so tiny when he was born that he was on oxygen 24 hours a day for seven months, ‘miraculous’ Leejay is now an inspiring beacon of hope after beating the odds in style to toast his 13th birthday.
Proud mum Natalie Sayers, who was just 18 when she had to endure the agony of being told her first born was on the brink of death, says he is now a “typical, stroppy teenager, with lots of attitude”.
But she wouldn’t have it any other way as she toasts another memorable family occasion she thought she would never see, and says she wouldn’t change him for the world.
Miss Sayers, whose second son Kory was also born two months early, is keen to spread an uplifting New Year message to other anxious parents of premature babies.
Miss Sayers, 32, who lives in Green Lane, South Shields, with Leejay, Kory and their dad Stephen Wood, said; “He was given just a 30% chance of survival when he was born. Doctors thought it might only last a couple of hours.
“It is miraculous.
“I was only 18 and it was my first pregnancy. I didn’t know what was going on. If it had happened years later, I would have reacted ten times worse.”
Leejay was so tiny he had to have specially made nappies and was kept at Newcastle’s RVI Hospital for two months before spending another two months at South Tyneside Hospital.
He had five blood transfusions, had to be rescuscitated twice and his mum was not allowed to take him home until she passed a first aid course in case he stopped breathing.
Leejay is now notching up excellent grades at South Shields School – and towers over his mum.
Miss Sayers said: “It took him a few years to catch up but he is getting great grades at school and has shot up in height. We always make a big fuss of him on his birthday.
“He is a typical, stroppy teenager, with lots of attitude, but I wouldn’t change him for the world.
“I always post a picture of him on the premature baby website of the RVI just to show other parents what can happen.
“It is nice to be able to inspire and support other parents who will be really worried about their children. It is amazing what has happened.
“I can say to other parents - just look at my son.”