The baby born after just 24 weeks

Victoria NichollsBaby Charlie has made it to six months despite all the odds - and he should only be eight weeks old.Victoria Nicholls

New Year's Day is a memorable birthday for any baby.

But for Jason and Becky Fisk, tiny Charlie's arrival was both extra special and extra worrying, as he was born on the first day of the year after just 24 weeks.

But now, six months later, the couple have thanked hospital staff for the part they have played in ensuring his recovery.

Mrs Fisk, 34, had an uneventful pregnancy until her waters broke at hospital when she went feeling unwell.

She was transferred by ambulance to a specialist unit at Luton & Dunstable Hospital and within 24 hours Charlie was born, weighing a fragile 1 lb 4oz.

Each day he battled for survival and staff advised the couple to enjoy the precious time with their baby.

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"We were positive but we knew we could lose him," said Mrs Fisk. "The palm of his hand was the same size as Jason's fingernail."

Because Charlie's skin was tissue paper-thin, his parents could only lay their hands on him gently, and his breathing was so unstable that it was three weeks before they were allowed to hold him. Even micro-nappies swamped him, reaching up to his armpits.

The couple, from Willingham St Mary, near Beccles, spent the first 10 days by Charlie's incubator. Then his mother split her time between the hospital, where she was able to stay in a room, and home, while both grandmothers pitched in to help.

Despite growing stronger, Charlie suffered setbacks, and at one point his mother had to watch medical staff resuscitate him.

But after five weeks he was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where his siblings Sophie, 11, Ben, nine, and Hollie, eight, were delighted to meet their new brother for the first time.

A fortnight later he was moved to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, where he became so much a part of the unit that staff baked a cake to mark his 100th day. Finally in April he was allowed to return home, and he has now passed his six-month milestone, although going by his due date he would be just eight weeks old.

Mrs Fisk said: "When he came home he was absolutely hospital trained - he was so well-behaved. Since he has come home we probably pick him up and cuddle him too much. He is lovely."

But she added: "He feeds well, he sleeps well - he's a happy little boy. He is so loved, he has had so many people praying for him." She added: "To us he is huge now but if you go out with him people say what a lovely little new born he is."

Mrs Fisk said the family wanted to say a huge thank you to staff at all three hospitals. She said: "The staff were absolutely amazing. The way they looked after us and explained everything to us made it a million times better."

She said she believed the swift action of staff at Gorleston in

giving her steroids before she gave birth to help Charlie breathe may have made all the difference to his survival.

Charlie appears to suffer no long-term effects other than chronic lung disease, which should improve as his lungs grow and heal.