A LITTLE girl who was born at just 23 weeks has celebrated her first birthday.

Bonnie Windels weighed 1lb 5oz when she was born prematurely on December 21, 2018, at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Her mother Leah Windels said she and husband Siegfried, who live in Portslade in Brighton with Bonnie and their two-year-old son Teddy, were prepared for the worst.

The 34-year-old said: “It was really hit and miss as to whether she was going to survive.

“There is nothing worse than having a sick child.”

Leah had gone into hospital a week before Bonnie was born after she started having labour pains.

She said: “We managed to keep Bonnie in up until 23 weeks and five days.

“After she was born we nearly lost her a few times, but they incubated her and treated her for various problems with her lungs and her eyes.

“It was all down to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit.

“They are just unbelievable.

“It’s one of the worst things that could have happened to us, but we have come through it.”

Bonnie was delivered just two days before the UK’s “viability age” of 24 weeks – which is also limit for an abortion.

Doctors are not legally obliged to treat babies under the age of 24 weeks, as survival rates are so low and invasive treatment can put a lot of pressure and pain on their tiny bodies.

But staff at the Trevor Mann Baby Unit at the Royal Sussex County hospital worked to treat Bonnie each time her oxygen levels dropped and she had to have blood transfusions for an infection, but each time she pulled through.

Leah said: “Bonnie was in hospital until April and she came home a week after her due date.

“When they are born that early they are expected to have a lot of problems but she is thriving now.

She’s doing all the things a typical baby does at the age of one, like trying to sit up and roll over and eating solids.”

Leah said she is so grateful to staff at the hospital.

She said: “There’s a whole world up there that we don’t know exists. It’s a crazy environment – there’s all these babies plugged into machines, like a sci-fi film, and then all these amazing calm nurses.

“We are going to spend as much of 2020 as possible fundraising for the Trevor Mann Baby Unit and neonatal intensive care.

“There are a lot of people up there now going through what we went through.

“We hope our story will give hope to other families.”