Thanks for our babies born against the odds

Fiona, Niamh and John with Conor in hospital

Fiona, Niamh and John with Conor in hospital

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When the fountains in the Peace Gardens and Barkers Pool turn purple on Monday, Fiona Brown and her partner John Byrne will be watching.

The colours mark World Prematurity Day – and the couple are giving thanks for their babies, Niamh, now three, and Conor, four months, born in the Jessop Wing.

Fiona, aged 33, of Crosspool, had pre-eclampsia during both pregnancies. Niamh was born at 28 weeks, weighing only 1lb 11ozs and Conor, 29 weeks weighing 2lb 1oz.

Both babies were unable to breathe for themselves, had holes in the heart, chronic lung disease and fluid on the brain. They were cared for by Jessop neonatal unit sister Julie Bathie, who is organising Monday’s event, and her team for over three months.

Fiona said: “Having premature babies has affected our family massively. Before you have a premature baby you just think its small baby, but nothing can prepare you for it. We don’t take anything for granted now, both our babies survived the odds and although they still have their problems, they are here with us as a family.”

She added: “More and more babies like mine are surviving thanks to units like this and it’s important that people are aware that premature birth is more common than you think.” The event, from 4pm, features a candle-lit vigil and the Jessop Wing Choir.