BIRMINGHAM, July 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - When Aaliyah Hart was born in 2003 at City Hospital, Birmingham, three months prematurely, weighing just 12oz and only 7 inches long, and with undeveloped lungs, doctors told her mother that she had a 1% chance of survival.
Aaliyah, defying the odds, turned ten in May and says that while she likes school, she loves sports and is the captain of the girls' football (soccer) team.
Almost as big as her peers now, at four feet tall and weighing 56 lbs, Aaliyah said, "I really like playing football, it's a lot of fun playing with my friends. Being the captain makes me feel very proud.”
“I like school but I really love sports. I know I'm a bit smaller but I try not to let it make a difference. My favourite team is Manchester United. I really like Wayne Rooney," she said according to a Daily Mail report on the amazing little girl.
Aaliyah is the smallest surviving baby ever born in Britain.
Aaliyah's mother Lorraine, herself only 5 ft., 1 in. tall, recalled that after she and her husband Ricardo had tried for 15 years to conceive without success, she was delighted when she found she was pregnant.
But five months into the pregnancy, the couple discovered that their much-wanted baby was not growing properly. Doctors advised Lorraine to have an abortion.
The parents were devastated, but rejected the option of an abortion and decided to continue with the pregnancy despite predictions that the baby would not survive beyond birth.
Describing the moment after she gave birth, Lorraine said, "I literally just cried and cried. I could not believe that something so small could survive. She was so tiny but she was so active. Her hands were going, she was her own little person and I cried for a long time. She was surviving - that was my main concern."
Dr. Jeffrey Bissenden, of City Hospital where Aaliyah was born and treated, said at the time that he was amazed by her survival and at how little care Aaliyah needed, having come off a life support machine two days after her birth.
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"I have been a consultant paediatrician since 1980 and I've never seen a baby that size survive," Dr. Bissenden said. "Usually, they are miscarriages but she (Mrs Hart) pushed out this little girl who wriggled around, waved her legs and said 'I want to live'."
"The prematurity was not that unique in this case but the size of the baby was. I was amazed the baby did not die in the womb," he added.
"I think this baby's survival is down to the intrinsic toughness of the child, not down to anything we have done."
In October 2003, after four months in the hospital's neo-natal unit, Aaliyah was taken home by her proud parents.
At that point weighing five pounds, Aaliyah's tiny lungs had developed and her body grown stronger. Lorraine said at the time, "All babies are special, but Aaliyah is a little bit extra special. She's amazing. She's done so well and I'm so proud of her."
In 2007, on the day Aaliyah started school, a blogger in the UK published the following words, attributed to ITN News, from Aaliyah's mother Lorraine for expectant mothers who are told their babies may not survive: "I'm proud I was strong enough not to listen to the so-called experts. I didn't crumble under their advice. This is great proof for all baby doctors . . . think and remember Aaliyah Hart."
"The doctors offered to abort her right up until I gave birth. But I was blessed with a strong little girl who pulled through. And now she's preparing for her first day at proper school."
Aaliyah's mother told the Daily Mail this week that she never imagined she would see her daughter running around a football pitch as a healthy ten-year-old.
"She really has come a long way - it's been one hell of a journey," Lorraine said.
The Headteacher at Aaliyah's school, Jane Scott, added that, "She really is holding her own and it's wonderful to see.
"She is progressing well academically and is a very popular little girl. She is full of confidence and has a wonderful character. To see where she has come from to playing football with the boys in the playground is an incredible story considering she was only given such a slim chance of survival."