A woman who feared she would never have children has spoken of her happiness after her baby boy survived life-saving surgery.
Kelly Hill and her partner Patrick Bloomfield, from Mallard Way in Great Cornard, had almost given up hope of having a baby when Kelly fell pregnant with her sixth and final IVF cycle.
Although overjoyed at the prospect of a child after four years and five failed attempts on the “fertility rollercoaster”, the couple knew the pregnancy may not be all plain sailing.
Kelly had developed chronic renal failure at the age of nine and had needed to carefully manage her illness until she underwent a kidney transplant at 21 years old. Seven years later, she suffered a heart attack.
For these reasons, doctors kept an especially close eye on her pregnancy.
“The drugs I take for my transplant can cause a small baby and the pregnancy wasn’t expected to reach full term,” said Kelly, 35.
“I was planning to have the baby between 32 and 40 weeks.”
However, following a check-up at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, Kelly was admitted on October 3 last year and baby Joseph was born two days later via caesarean section weighing just 2lb 10oz.
He arrived into the world after only 28 weeks and five days of pregnancy.
“It all happened very quickly and I was just on a high when he was born,” said Kelly.
“He was crying so I knew he was ok. It was only later that he started struggling.”
In order to keep him alive, Joseph was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, but at four days old he developed a rare condition called necrotising enterocolitis – which damages tissue in the bowel.
He was rushed for an emergency operation at 2 o’clock in the morning.
“It was the worst time possible,” said Kelly. “He had three holes in his bowel so they had to create a stoma [an opening from the digestive system].”
The surgery went well and, after seven weeks in Addenbrooke’s, Joseph was transferred to the high dependency unit at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds for a further three weeks.
After building up his strength, Joseph was allowed home just before Christmas. His due date was December 23.
“He has been through an awful lot and had countless infections,” said Kelly.
“You learn that they can go downhill very quickly, but that they also bounce back.
“We always wanted him so much.
“He is our miracle boy.”
Now aged seven months, Joseph has recently been discharged by the care team at Addenbrooke’s.
He is displaying the type of battling courage that saw Kelly feature in the pages of the Free Press in 1990, when she received a prestigious Child of Achievement Award from Margaret Thatcher for the way she fought her debilitating kidney disorder.
“He is a real fighter,” said Kelly’s mum Bernie, from Bures Road in Great Cornard.
“He is so special because he is something we never thought we would see.”
With Joseph developing well, Kelly is planning to say thank you to The Sick Children’s Trust – a charity which helped her and partner Patrick, 40, in their time of need.
The trust provides a “home away from home” for parents of sick babies and they gave Kelly a room in Chestnut House at Addenbrooke’s to allow her to be close to Joseph while he was in hospital.
“They are only a small charity but they provide everything for you,” said Kelly.
“I was so grateful I could be there. They normally only allow you to stay for two weeks but I was there for five as I was so far away from Cambridge.
“I had never heard of the charity before Joseph and the help they provided stopped extra stress.”
Kelly is organising a fun day for the charity at AFC Sudbury. She has already arranged a bouncy castle, stocks, face-painting and a bungee run, but is looking for more stalls to get involved and raffle prizes to be donated.
“People don’t think about these charities before they need them,” said Joseph’s grandmother Bernie.
“Then you realise how important they are.”
The fun day is due to take place on August 3. Anyone who wishes to get involved should contact Kelly by email on email@example.com.