A MOTHER has paid tribute to medics who saved the life of her premature son as he celebrated his tenth birthday against all the odds.

Michelle Durah, a former mental health nurse, has thanked Southend Hospital and Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for saving her son when he was born at just 24 weeks into her pregnancy in 2004.

Baby Richard weighed just 1lb 6oz – less than a bag of sugar – when he made his early appearance into the world. He was not expected to survive.

But Richard did survive and he celebrated his tenth birthday on June 18.

Ms Durah said: “Richard has reached a double-digit birthday. It’s a milestone that I wanted to be recognised.

“Survival of such extremely premature babies is rare and unfortunately many don’t survive for so long.

“The hospitals were wonderful and without them he wouldn’t have survived. I can’t thank them enough.

“I also want to pay tribute to Richard’s school, Our Lady of Lourdes, in Leigh. They are great with him and give him one-to-one tuition, which has worked very well. He has made lots of friends there as well. No one has teased him or called him names and they all look after him.”

Ms Durah, who worked at Runwell and Basildon Hospitals, only discovered she was expecting Richard after being checked over at Basildon Hospital following an assault by a patient.

She said: “I was taken to A&E after the assault and they told me I was fiveweeks’ pregnant and couldn’t be X-rayed. There were problems through the pregnancy because of the assault.

“I had to be scanned every week and then I developed pre-eclmapsia.

“Richard was born at Southend Hospital at 24 weeks and immediately transferred to Addenbrooke’s.

He came back to Southend Hospital 35 days later.

“He does have problems. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, he has speech difficulties, a lack of fine motor skills, asthma and a nut allergy. He is also blissfully unaware of danger, so he will wander off anywhere and has to be watched all the time.

“It’s been hard and my marriage failed during all of it, but it was all worth it.”

Ms Durah added: “People are quick to criticise hospitals when things go wrong, but without them I wouldn’t have Richard.”