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Back where it all began... BUT THIS TIME SOPHIE IS A NURSE - NOT A PATIENT!

Byline: KEIRAN SOUTHERN Reporter keiran.southern@trintiymirror.com @KeiranSouthern

SUGARBAG girl Sophie Proud is dedicating her life to saving premature babies - just like herself. Now 20, Sophie was born at just 24 weeks, weighing less than a bag of sugar, and was Britain's first baby to survive such an early birth.

She hit the headlines when she came into the world weighing just 1lb 70z at Newcastle's RVI Special Care Baby Unit.

She went through open heart surgery, an operation on her eyes, 10 bouts of pneumonia and blood poisoning.

But the battling tot beat the odds to make an amazing recovery.

Now two decades on A* student Sophie studies paediatric nursing at Teesside University and is doing a placement on the same Newcastle neonatal intensive care ward where she spent 16 weeks fighting for life.

She said: "I've loved every minute of it. It's strange to stand next to an incubator where I once was, but it's been a dream come true to work with the team here, including some of the doctors and nurses who saved my life.

"It's also been amazing to speak to parents here on the unit as I know it's really hard for families with premature babies living day to day. I can tell them that I was in one of these cots 20 years ago and give them a bit of hope."

Dr Nick Embleton, a consultant neonatologist who was a registrar on the unit when Sophie was born is delighted to see her back.

He said: "It's always wonderful to see babies we have cared for and been so concerned about pulling through and getting home to their families. But with Sophie, it's extra special.

"It is a privilege to still be in contact with Sophie 20 years on and to see how she has grown from a baby who we feared was not going to survive, into an amazing young woman who is achieving so much with her life."

Sophie also works as an ambassador for Tiny Lives, tirelessly fundraising for the charity that funds a wide range of vital equipment, specialist training and research as well as emotional and financial support for families on the Neonatal Unit at the RVI.

She has done this since she was just six years old.

Dr Alan Fenton, another consultant neonatologist on the unit who cared for Sophie, said: "Her passion towards fundraising and raising awareness about issues concerning premature birth after what has happened to her can only be placed under the heading of inspirational - and that's not a term I use lightly!" Newcastle's neonatology experts treat around 750 premature and seriously unwell babies every year, often looking after more than 34 babies at any one time.

The Unit is "level 3" (the highest) neonatal intensive care unit which means it provides intensive care and high dependency care.

CAPTION(S):

Student Nurse Sophie Proud with Consultant Nick Embleton, Sister Karen Matthison, Sister Lizzie Worrell, Sister Kelly Alexander and Consultant Alan Fenton who cared for her as a premature baby

Battling Sophie Proud who was born weighing the same as a bag of sugar

Student Nurse Sophie Proud back at the Special Care Baby Unit where she defied the odds 20 years ago

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2016
Words:539
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