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Baby born weighing just 1lb beats the odds to celebrate first birthday

Arley-James was born weighing just 1lb but has beaten the odds to celebrate his first birthday. (National World/Naomi Walker/SWNS)
Arley-James was born weighing just 1lb but has beaten the odds to celebrate his first birthday. (National World/Naomi Walker/SWNS)

A baby born weighing just 1lb - around the same as a loaf of bread - has beaten all the odds to celebrate his first birthday after making his arrival 16 weeks early..

Arley-James Hughes, from Morcambe, Lancashire, was so small he had to be kept in a "sandwich bag", which mimicked mum Naomi Walker's womb.

The infant, who weighed just 500g at birth, spent 153 days in hospital as he battled a rare heart condition.

Doctors were so worried about him that they told Walker, 35, and her partner Chris Hughes, 34, to make funeral plans.

But after being given a lifesaving trial drug, Arley's health finally improved and in July 2023 after five months in hospital he was finally allowed home.

While he is still on oxygen, his parents say he is growing stronger by the day and recently celebrated his first birthday surrounded by his "proud" family.

Arley-James weighed around the same as a loaf of bread, pictured in hospital. (Naomi Walker/SWNS)
Arley-James weighed around the same as a loaf of bread, pictured in hospital. (Naomi Walker/SWNS)

"Arley has survived everything that’s been thrown at him, he’s a miracle," his mum explains.

"I count my blessings every day. I know he’s got a long way to go. He still needs support with breathing , but I’m just amazed at his incredible strength.

"For someone who weighed 500g to put up the fight he has and to be so happy and smiley throughout it all, there are no words to describe how proud and amazed I am."

Walker's pregnancy had been fairly straightforward until she was admitted to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary last February with a urine condition and a chest infection.

But while in hospital her son decided to make an early entrance into the world months earlier than anticipated.

"I was on the toilet and I felt a pressure," Walker says. "It was very scary. I knew instantly, right at that moment, he was coming."

Arley-James was in hospital for five months. (Naomi Walker/SWNS)
Arley-James was in hospital for five months. (Naomi Walker/SWNS)

Having given birth to her son, on February 20 last year, Walker recalls clutching Arley-James for a few breif minutes before he was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit.

"I gave Arley a little cuddle and he made a purring sound that I’ll never forget but then he went straight into intensive care," she says.

Arley-James was given blood transfusions soon after his birth and was put on a ventilator while on the intensive care ward.

But after four weeks, just when he seemed to have turned a corner, he was diagnosed with the rare heart condition fungal endocarditis.

After informing his parents about the life-threatening condition, which has a mortality rate of up to 75%, doctors told his parents to prepare for the worst.

"They said there was nothing more they could do for him," she recalls. "Basically, make funeral arrangements.

"It just floored me. I just ran out of the neonatal unit. It was possibly the worst news of my life."

Arley-James was allowed home in July last year. (Naomi Walker/SWNS)
Arley-James was allowed home in July last year. (Naomi Walker/SWNS)

Remarkably, however, after agreeing for Arley-James to start a trial drug, his health started to improve over the next few weeks.

Walker, who never left him during his time in the hospital, believes the sound of her voice and touch may have kept him going through his difficult days.

"The nurses said I’d given him support," she explains. "He was in 'containment hold', which is where you put your hand on his head and another one on his chest and it really helps him."

Walker describes feeling "amazed" when she was finally able to bring Arley-James home on July 23 last year.

Parents Naomi Walker and Chris Hughes with baby Arley-James Hughes who has just celebrated his first birthday. (National World/SWNS)
Parents Naomi Walker and Chris Hughes with baby Arley-James Hughes who has just celebrated his first birthday. (National World/SWNS)

And now her son has celebrated his first birthday with his loved ones.

"He filled himself up with cupcakes," Walker says of the special moment. "We sang happy birthday to him.

"He’s just the most loving happy baby anyone could meet," she says of her son.

"All the nurses absolutely adore him because he’s just so smiley – even when he’s been really poorly, he’s been full of smiles."

Additional reporting SWNS.

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