Sophie Proud, 20, survived after being born at just 24 weeks. Now, she is working as a trainee nurse at the hospital that saved her life
At birth, Sophie Proud was frail, bird-like and fighting for her life.
Weighing less than a bag of sugar, she was kept alive by modern medicine after being born at just 24 weeks.
Now 20 years old, she is working as a trainee nurse on the same ward where she was delivered – and can even stand next to the incubator that was her home decades ago.
Miss Proud was born prematurely, weighing just 1lb 7oz.
As she weighed the first ‘sugar bag baby’.
In her first few months of life she underwent open heart surgery and later, an operation on her eyes.
She suffered ten bouts of pneumonia and blood poisoning in her first few months.
But she battled through and made an amazing recovery at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary Special Care Baby Unit, where she is now training as a nurse.
Describing being back on the ward she was born, she said: ‘I’ve loved every minute of it.
‘It’s strange to stand next to an incubator where I once was, but it’s been a dream come true to work with the team here, including some of the doctors and nurses who saved my life.
‘It’s also been amazing to speak to parents here on the unit as I know it’s really hard for families with premature babies living day to day.
‘I can tell them that I was in one of these cots 20 years ago and give them a bit of hope.’
She studies paediatric nursing at Teesside University and is on placement at the Royal Victoria’s neonatal unit.
Back in the 1990s, she was at the forefront of neonatal medicine.
Today, medical advances mean premature babies can survive from as early as 22 weeks.
Dr Nick Embleton, a consultant neonatologist who was a registrar on the unit when Miss Proud was born said it is ‘extra special’ to work alongside her.
Miss Proud was born prematurely at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, weighing just 1lb 7oz – less than a bag of sugar. In her first few months she underwent open heart surgery and later, an operation on her eyes
Now, Miss Proud is training to be a nurse and is on placement at the Royal Infirmary. She said: ‘It’s strange to stand next to an incubator where I once was, but it’s been a dream come true to work with the team here, including some of the doctors and nurses who saved my life’
He said: ‘It’s always wonderful to see babies we have cared for and been so concerned about pulling through and getting home to their families. But with Sophie, it’s extra special.
‘It is a privilege to still be in contact with Sophie 20 years on and to see how she has grown from a baby who we feared was not going to survive, into an amazing young woman who is achieving so much with her life.’
From the age of six, Miss Proud has also been an ambassador for Tiny Lives, a charity that funds vital equipment and specialist training for the neonatal unit.
Dr Alan Fenton, another consultant neonatologist on the unit – who also cared for Miss Proud, said: ‘Her passion towards fundraising and raising awareness about issues concerning premature birth after what has happened to her can only be placed under the heading of inspirational – and that’s not a term I use lightly.’
The hospital ‘s neonatology experts treat around 750 premature and seriously unwell babies every year, often looking after more than 34 babies at any one time.