A BABY born at 23 weeks celebrates her first birthday today.
Heather Pope's mum Pearl is thrilled to bits at the astonishing progress the youngster has made.
Heather weighed just 1lb 4ozs - less than a bag of sugar - when she was born and spent the first three months of her life in intensive care at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, before coming home in time for Christmas.
Pearl, 34, of Burton Street, Rishton, said: "I just can't thank the staff at the Manchester hospital and Queen's Park Hospital, Blackburn, enough. People might say that they were just doing their job but the fact remains that they saved her life. I just look at her at night and can't believe how lucky we've been and how perfect she is.''
Pearl, her husband Glynn, 32, and their son Nathaniel, eight, will be throwing a birthday party at the family home tomorrow.
Heather still suffers from chronic lung disease and two holes in the heart but doctors have assured her parents that they will not be a long-term problem.
She was born after six years of infertility and two sets of IVF treatment.
Pearl said: "She now weighs 15lbs 10ozs, which is still tiny for her age, and she is about four months behind in her development.''
She kept a diary of the first three months of Heather's life and has now published 100 copies at her own expense. They are available at both Queen's Park and St Mary's hospitals for parents in a similar situation to read. The book is free of charge.