Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

'Miracle' 23-week baby goes home

Baby Annabella
Annabella James took her parents on an emotional rollercoaster

A family from East Sussex are celebrating being at home with their "miracle" baby who survived after being born at 23-and-a-half weeks' gestation.

Jodi Andrews and her partner Mark James feared their daughter Annabella might not survive after she was born at Eastbourne's District General Hospital.

But after four months' treatment in three hospitals in Surrey and Sussex she was discharged last week.

"We can't believe how lucky we have been," said Mr James, from Willingdon.

Ms Andrews was taken to the district general hospital by ambulance when she went into labour prematurely and gave birth the following morning.

'Fighting for breath'

"She was born still in the amniotic sac, which is supposed to be lucky according to old wives' tales," said Mr James.

"So from that point of view it was a miracle in itself, because she didn't have the distress she might have had or the bruising from the birth.

"We were told they wouldn't normally resuscitate a baby under 24 weeks, but she was fighting for breath so luckily they did," said Mr James.

From Eastbourne, Annabella was first transferred to the special care baby unit at St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey and then to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

"There were a lot of problems along the way," said Mr James.

"We were told she had a one in four chance when we first arrived at St Peter's and it was a real emotional rollercoaster from then.

"But she has really come through it and hasn't got any real problems.

"The support we have had from the NHS has been absolutely fantastic."

Annabella's mother, Jodi Andrews, says she "prepared herself for the worst" when she went into labour

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