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Dangerously premature North Devon baby now thriving at age 10

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 20, 2012

By Philippa Jenkins

  • BIRTHDAY BOY: Oliver Miley's sister Sophie Bailey, 16, holds up a page from the Journal with the story about his premature birth. He is pictured right with his mother Maxine Miley. Picture: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20121213D-004_C

  • TINY: A 10p coin with Oliver's hand and footprint shows how tiny he was.

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WEIGHING less than a bag of sugar with heart and lung failure meant doctors feared the worst for one North Devon baby who was born four months prematurely.

But now, a decade later, it is a different story for Oliver Miley who defied all the odds and celebrated his tenth birthday in Northam last week.

Oliver was born on December 12, 2002, at Taunton Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit.

Doctors warned his mum Maxine, who was 26 at the time, that his chances of survival were very low.

Maxine said at 12 weeks the hospital advised they should turn Oliver's life support machines off but Maxine wouldn't let them.

She added: "I just knew he could make it. We were all just trying to stay really positive.

"Then a turning point happened and he seemed to improve over the next couple of weeks and at 14 weeks we were transferred to North Devon District Hospital.

"There were definitely moments I remember like the first time Oliver opened his eyes which was on Boxing Day, a couple of weeks after he was born.

"You just couldn't believe how small he was.

"The hospital provided tiny nappies and some clothes, like little hats, as he got bigger. You can't buy anything in the shops so small."

The family weren't able to take Oliver home until he was five and half months old.

Maxine said it was exciting as well as petrifying.

"He would often stop breathing so we were taught resuscitation," she said.

She added: "We were also warned at that time that he might suffer from cerebral palsy and that he might have to wear glasses but he shouldn't be affected by anything else."

Until he was ten months old, Oliver progressed beyond expectations but he then suffered from a head injury and was in a coma for several days.

Maxine said it was the hardest part to deal with because the injury left him severely brain damaged meaning Oliver was a completely different child to the one before.

Despite now having severe cerebral palsy and suffering from several bouts of pneumonia Oliver can now speak and walk with a walking frame.

He can also now eat any type of food which has been a slow process as he had to rely on a gastrostomy tube.

He also attends Pathfield School in Barnstaple five days a week.

Maxine wanted to make sure his tenth birthday was as a big a celebration as possible.

She organised a party for Oliver at Northam Hall where dozens of friends and family gathered to mark the milestone.

She said: "This has actually been the most emotional time leading up to his birthday because it is now you start to look back at what we have been through.

"I think when you go through something like this you are often in your own bubble but now, touch wood, we are through the worst."

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