First 'sugar bag baby' is now neonatal nurse helping babies survive 21 years after her own premature birth

Sophie Proud made headlines around the world 21 years ago when she was born weighing less than a bag of sugar at a tiny 1lb 7oz. The original "sugar bag baby" was the first baby in Britain to survive being born at 24 weeks, weighing 1lb 7oz, less than the 2lb 2oz in a bag of sugar. Stunningly, Sophie is now a nurse in a neonatal unit helping other babies survive premature birth just as she did two decades ago.  Sophie Proud made headlines around the world when she was born 24 weeks into her mum’s pregnancy. 

Baby Sophie had open-heart surgery, an operation on her eyes, 10 bouts of pneumonia, blood poisoning which almost cost her a hand and collapsed lungs. Yet Sophie made an incredible recovery and is now an amazing symbol of hope for the parents of premature children on her ward.

"My mum was told my chance of survival was very poor. They were not sure if I would be able to walk or talk and warned my development would be delayed. It looked bleak," Sophie told the Mirror. 

"I always knew I wanted to give something back. Growing up I was always aware of what a neonatal nurse does. I did not realise the significance of what I’d been through but I do now. I speak to parents on the ward and support them. Many say it gives them hope knowing what the outcome can be."

Sophie's big sister Aimee Dornan, 31 is also a neonatal nurse. Mother-of-two Aimee, who is now working in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, said: “I always remember watching the procedures being carried out there when Sophie was born."

"I loved speaking to the nurses and I told them, ‘When I’m a big girl, I want to be a neonatal nurse’," Aimee Dornan said. 

Sophie, of Seaham, Co Durham, has been an ambassador for the Tiny Lives charity since she was six years old.

Mum Janette, 59 said that seeing survival rates for premature babies going up was encouraging: “I think it will give hope to lots of parents.”

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