The proud mum of a baby who was born so premature that her brain was visible through the skin on her head has spoken about her daughter's battle against the odds.
Hailie Dillon had around a 35% chance of survival after she was born on 23 February last year aged 23 weeks and six days at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, Teesside.
Luckily, Hailie pulled through, and her mum Cheri Price, 22, was stunned by how her newborn daughter looked at the time due to her skull and skin pigmentation not yet being fully developed.
Cheri said: "When Hailie was born, it sounds bad to say it, but she looked like a red alien. She was still in the foetus stage and she didn't look like a baby at all - we couldn't believe she even survived.
"From birth she was put in an incubator and we couldn't touch her - but we could see all the veins of her brain through her red skin."
Mum-of-three Cheri was only 20 weeks pregnant with Hailie when she started having contractions while at home on the Isle of Wight on 30 January last year.
Because the island's hospital didn't have the facilities to care for newborns younger than 24 weeks - the time a newborn is considered 'viable' - Cheri and her boyfriend Timothy Dillon, 32, decided to travel to Darlington, Teeside where Tim's relatives lived.
Cheri hoped that heading to the North East would allow her to access better hospital facilities and have relatives take care of her young son Jack as the family couldn't afford to pay to stay in a hotel for weeks in nearby Portsmouth.
After making the 300 mile, eight hour journey to the North East, Cheri spent a fortnight in and out of hospital. With her contractions subsided, she was getting ready to head home before her waters broke on 21 February.
Hailey was born two days later and needed to be resuscitated after she didn't breathe for seven minutes. The poor tot's lung collapsed just two days later. It was 18 days before Cheri could even hold her 1lb 2oz baby.
Cheri said: "I'm so proud of her, what we've been through and what she has been through has been horrendous. We thought we would lose her at so many points."
Even though Hailie survived, Cheri and Tim spent three months in hospital with Hailie as she still had not opened her eyes and risked being permanently blind after her retina had not developed properly.
Hailie was eventually diagnosed with stage three ROP (Retinopathy of prematurity) and flown back down south by private plane to specialist hospitals in Hampshire closer to the family's home.
Hailie was finally allowed home on 19 June last year - two days after her actual due date - and now appears to be doing just fine.
Cheri and Tim with Hailie now. Credit: SWNS
After their roller-coaster experience, full-time mum Cheri, whose eldest child Liam has ADHD, said she's putting her foot down on having any more children.
"Timothy is definitely getting the snip now - I've said no more kids, he now has four kids, two from a previous relationship, so that's it now - he's agreed," Cheri said.
"Hopefully next year he can treat me to somewhere away from hospitals."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS