HOME at last.
Four months ago, Joseph Gibson’s parents didn’t think he’d survive his first 24 hours of life when he came into the world weighing just 1lb 8oz.
Born 16 weeks early ahead of his due date, which was expected to be on January 19, the Thorney Close baby faced a gruelling start to life.
But, after months spent under the watchful eye of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s neo-natal unit, the baby has finally been allowed home.
It’s a dream come true for parents Gemma Miller, 28, and Paul Gibson, 29, who have made twice-daily trips to the hospital since his birth, willing him to survive.
“It’s such a relief to have him home. I can’t stop looking at him,” said Gemma who is also mum to Alfie, three.
She added: “Alfie is loving having his little brother home. He just wants to help with everything, like feeding him and changing his nappy. Finally we have our two boys together.”
Joseph, who now weighs nearly 8lb, is not totally out of the woods though.
Because he was born at just 24 weeks into his mum’s pregnancy, his tiny lungs were not yet fully developed which means he has chronic lung disease.
He could remain on permanent oxygen for as long as a year while his lungs build up enough strength to breathe comfortably on their own, but his doctors have told his parents they are delighted with his progress.
Joseph has already undergone an operation at six weeks old to close a duct in his under-developed heart but Gemma says having him home is a big step to him starting a normal life.
“When he was born he was so tiny that we didn’t think we would get to spend 24 hours with him, let alone be able to bring him home,” said Gemma.
She added: “He really struggled with his breathing at first as he couldn’t co-ordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing at the same time, but he’s mastered that now. He’s making progress all the time.
“It’s great to have him home because we can spend more time with Alfie now too, as it’s been hard for him having his parents at the hospital all the time.”
Gemma says they owe Joseph’s life to the dedication of staff at the neo-natal unit.
“Without them, Joseph wouldn’t be here,” she said.
To say thank you to the staff, Paul is planning to complete the Coast to Coast cycle ride to raise funds for the unit.
Anyone who wants to sponsor the team or has any cycle equipment they could donate, can contact Paul on email@example.com