LITTLE Jasmine Aiken-Burnikell plays with her first birthday cards on a day her family feared they would never see.
The High Barnes toddler was born a year ago today with no heartbeat, critically ill after coming into the world 14 weeks early.
Weighing just 2lb 2oz, she had to be resuscitated in front of devoted mum Jill Aiken as doctors battled for 14 minutes to find a heartbeat.
Despite her traumatic start to life, Jasmine has gone on to defy the odds.
Today she’s a happy, healthy baby who loves nothing more than baby yoga and playing with her toys.
Though she has been left with chronic lung disease, she gets stronger every day and doctors are delighted with her progress.
Jill, 37, who went into labour at just 26 weeks into her pregnancy with Jasmine, told the Echo: “I call her my little miracle all the time.
“I didn’t know babies could survive being born so early.
“Yesterday she was crawling about and pulled out an album of photos of herself in hospital, she was so tiny.
“I well up just thinking about how far she has come.”
Specialists did all they could to keep Jasmine alive, including an emergency blood transfusion when she was born, and keeping her on respiratory support in the neonatal intensive care unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital until she was 35 days old.
She was so fragile when she was born that she was four days old before Jill could hold her only child in her arms for the first time.
After 11 weeks in hospital, Jasmine – whose father is Simon Burnikell – was allowed home where she remained on oxygen support to help her breathe.
“Her nurse comes to see her regularly,” said Jill.
“She weighs 16lb 3oz now, which is less than other one year olds, but if you go by her due date which was supposed to be in October, she’s only eight and a half months old.
“She used to have to be on oxygen all the time but the past three or four weeks, she’s been able to be without it during the day.
“The doctors think she may be short-sighted when she gets a bit older. But she’s so alert, she notices everything.”
Jasmine’s family and friends are celebrating her milestone birthday with a tea party and visit to the farm today.
Jill said: “Jasmine was born three days before my birthday and she’s the best present I could ever have asked for. People are always saying what a pleasant baby she is.
“She gets stronger every day. She’s getting her first tooth at the minute and she’s always shuffling about, You turn around for a minute and think ‘how did she get there?’”