When Frankie Thompson was born 16 weeks prematurely, his mother held his tiny fingers and said goodbye.
Due in January, the British infant was born last September weighing just 13 ounces – less than a can of baked beans, The Sun reports. He was so small and fragile that doctors thought he would not survive; 24 weeks also is the legal abortion cutoff in England.
Michelle Thompson told the news outlet that she thought she would have only a few minutes with him before he died.
“I held his little finger and took a picture,” she said. “I thought it was goodbye.”
But Frankie continued to cling to life. After three months in the hospital, he was well enough to go home to his family; today, he is growing healthy and strong.
His parents, Michelle and Pete, describe their son as “our little miracle.”
Here’s more from the report:
Consultant [for St Peter’s Hospital in Surrey] Dr Peter Reynolds, who led the team that cared for Frankie, said: “He was both very premature and also about half the weight he might have been expected to be, his chances of survival were initially slim.
“However he responded very well to intensive care and support, and his progress amazed us all.
“We are all delighted that Frankie has had such a great outcome — he is now the smallest surviving baby we have ever cared for in our neonatal intensive care unit.”
Photos from the report show the family at home living a happy, normal life together.
“He is our little miracle. I’m so proud of him. It is amazing how far he has come with everything against him,” his mother said. “He is real fighter. All the doctors told me that no baby boy that tiny had ever survived before.”
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Recent technological advancements are helping more premature babies like Frankie survive and thrive.
A Duke University study published in 2017 found that babies born at just 23 weeks gestation are surviving outside the womb at a greater rate than ever before. Researchers examined 4,500 babies between 2000 and 2011 and found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.
Late last year, the journal Pediatrics highlighted a baby girl in the United States who survived after being born 21 weeks and four days after conception. The girl, who now is 3, is believed to be the youngest premature baby to survive.
Cases like these are prompting calls to change abortion laws in the U.S. and England to reflect the new viability lines. Previously, 24 weeks generally was considered the point of viability. Abortions are illegal after 24 weeks in England and in a number of American states.