Unique Samuel was born 17 weeks early in 2002, weighing a tiny 600grams (1lb 4oz). She was only given a ten per cent chance of survival before her mum Angie went into preterm labour and gave birth to her at just 23 weeks gestation.
At birth Unique’s condition was very poor and the family prepared themselves for the worst. Due to her extreme prematurity she needed a lifesaving operation in her first seven days of life. Her stomach was distended and food was not being digested, and an x-ray revealed she had contracted Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC), where a hole had developed in her bowel causing meconium to leak into her stomach cavity but an operation to fix it saved her life.
Unique also had a number of other complications including infections, a collapsed lung, brain haemorrhage, chronic lung disease, and numerous blood transfusions, but after five months in hospital she was finally able to go home.
Unique is now 12 years old and has not had any long-term negative effects from her early birth and traumatic start to life. She has now started secondary school.
Unique’s mum Angie said, “No mum expects their pregnancy will be over so quickly and after Unique’s early start our family went through a real roller coaster ride. Last week she started secondary school, which was an incredibly proud day for us as I witnessed my baby girl take huge steps towards the next level of life.
I took my rightful place at the school gates alongside many more proud parents and aimed my camera high to capture the magical moment. Did I cry? Yes. Was I worried? Slightly. Am I proud? You bet!”