TINY Billy Doran battled back from the brink of death after being born at just 23 weeks.
The little miracle, from Hylton Castle, Sunderland, weighed just 1lb 6oz at birth.
Medics told the baby’s family to fear the worst. But Billy, who was small enough to fit in a human hand, defied all odds to the joy of his loving family.
Now 18 months old and having faced a host of medical problems, they are hopeful he has a bright future.
Dad Billy Archbold, 32, said: “He was tiny when he was born – it was unbelievable how small he was. His head wasn’t much bigger than a golf ball.
“At first they said he was doing okay but within days his little body was failing and he was on the brink of death.
“We were told to fear the worst and didn’t expect him to pull through.
“But he amazed everyone and survived.”
Billy wasn’t able to leave Sunderland Royal Hospital, where he was born on July 22, 2009, for four months and has been in and out of hospital ever since.
“It was an agonising wait until he was allowed to leave hospital,” said his dad.
“I just wanted to pick him up and give him a cuddle but he was so fragile we weren’t allowed.”
He added: “I had no idea Billy was going to be born prematurely, it came as a huge shock.
“I didn’t think it was possible he could be born so soon. The birth had been quick and Billy had been born by the time I had rushed to the hospital.”
Billy, who is no longer with the baby’s mother, said: “He went into foster care at first, but in September I got sole custody and look after him now.
He added: “It’s tough sometimes being a single dad, but seeing Billy doing so well makes it all worthwhile.”
While in foster care Billy stopped breathing and the foster parents had to resuscitate him and rush him to hospital.
He has also suffered a bleed on the brain, bronchitis and has been diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, a condition that can be fatal.
Last month he also underwent a stomach operation at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary after months of struggling to keep his food down.
Billy is now home with his dad, who hopes the worst is behind them.
The dad, who has two other children aged 12 and 13 from a previous relationship, said: “Because Billy was so small, it’s important he gains weight, but he wasn’t keeping his food down. He’s had an operation on his stomach so he now gets fed through a tube.
“His development is set back and he is like a six to nine-month-old. He’s started crawling and says ‘dada’ which is amazing to hear.
“He is such an affectionate little boy and even when he was in hospital, he always smiled through the pain.
“He’s so brave after going through more in his life so far than most will in a lifetime. He is a little miracle.”
Billy said he was incredibly thankful to staff at the neo-natal ward and ward F65 at Sunderland Royal Hospital and to Billy’s foster parents.