Marathon run for miracle 13oz Haywards Heath baby

Tilly Roberts
Tilly Roberts
  • Tilly Roberts was born weighing 13oz
  • She was given a five per cent chance of survival
  • She has recovered well in the last year
  • Her dad, Andi Roberts, is running a marathon for the charity that supported her

A baby girl who weighed less than a pound at birth was given a five percent chance of survival in January last year.

Tilly Roberts was born weighting 360 grams after her mother Jemma suffered pre-eclampsia in a ‘nightmare’ pregnancy lasting just 24 weeks and five days.

It was an awful struggle, but against all the odds she’s proved everyone wrong

Doctors told the Haywards Heath family that Tilly is the smallest premature baby they had seen survive.

Tilly’s dad Andi said: “It was an awful struggle, but against all the odds she’s proved everyone wrong.”

Jemma had a miscarriage in 2013, and 20 weeks into her pregnancy last year doctors noticed Tilly was not growing.

“We were told that ‘to give the baby a chance to survive at all you need to get the baby out now’.

“And they said after a C-section they need to see a sign of life. Then she kind of squealed.

“They said they had done what they can, but didn’t expect her to survive. We knew it was a long road ahead.”

On average, baby girls are born after 40 weeks weighing seven pounds, four ounces.

Tilly, known as Tilly ‘Boo’ Robinson, was ‘very frail and fragile’, but has avoided many health complications experienced by premature babies. However, she does have a lung condition which has her hospitalised.

“If she keeps getting bugs we might need to remove that section of the lung,” Andi explained.

“It’s about catching up, getting her lungs bigger and stronger, it’s about getting through the first winter.

“We’ve been told how bright and clever she is.”

Andi, who works for housing association Affinity Sutton, is running Saturday’s Brighton Marathon for The Early Birth Association (EBA), a support group for parents of premature and sick babies.

Both parents ran the Brighton Half Marathon for the same cause in February. So far they have raised £8,197.97.

“Many people do not realise that a baby born very early can survive to become a normal healthy child. They offer help and support to new parents who are facing the same traumatic experiences that we faced,” Andi said.

Tilly was in hospital for 143 days in the Trevor Mann Baby Unit at Royal Sussex County Hospital, followed by the Special Care Baby Unit at Princess Royal Hospital before heading home on June 20.40 of the family’s friends signed up to support their efforts in the half marathon.

Andi continued: “Many of the parents wanted to show their appreciation for the care their babies received. They receive donations and buy items ranging from vital lifesaving equipment, including a scanner, state of the art incubators, blood gas analyser and phototherapy units to clothes and nursery items such as pretty sheets and blankets to make the unit more homely.”

Andi’s colleague Ross Hamilton is running the marathon with EBA with him.

He said: “I met with Andi Roberts on a training event and he told me of the early birth of his daughter Tilly.

“When he told me about the amazing work of the EBA and the marathon run fundraising, I jokingly said that I had always wanted to run a marathon and at 39 years old this might be my last chance.”

The furthest Ross has run is a six mile fun run 26 years ago.

“Being a new father, Tilly’s story stayed with me and when Andi said they were looking for runners I jumped at the chance,” he added.

EBA, which supports the two units which cared for Tilly, is run by volunteers who have experience of babies requiring specialist care.

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