The baby born so small that midwives put him in sandwich bag to keep him warm
When Saif Mehmood was born prematurely at 24 weeks, he was so small he was slipped into a sandwich bag to keep him warm, before being put in an incubator.
But three years on, the little fighter is celebrating his birthday this week with his proud family.
Just after giving birth, Saif's mother Sadia was told her son – born at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, weighing just one pound and three ounces – had only a 50/50 chance of survival.
Premature birth: Saif Mehmood, born at just 24 weeks was slipped into a sandwich bag straight after her was born, and before being put in an incubator
The mother-of-three had been suffering with a virus, which medics believe led to her giving birth to Saif so prematurely.
Sadia – who had to wait nine weeks before she could hold her son – said she knew when he was five-days-old that he would pull through.
'He started to grasp my hand slowly. That was the best moment ever,' said the 28-year-old, from Yardley.
'I thought he really was going to fight and so it proved.
'I had been suffering with a virus which doctors told me resulted in me giving birth so early.
'I remember so vividly when Saif was born the doctors put him straight into a sandwich bag and then into an incubator. He was tiny.'
Sadia and her husband, van driver Khalid, aged 33, could only watch as Saif’s fragile body struggled to fight off infections.
Saif's mother Sadia says she knew her baby would pull through when he was just five days old
Sadia, who has two other children, Hasan, aged seven, and Parisa, three, said: 'When I heard the words 50/50 chance I didn’t know what to do, I was really upset.
'We were praying he would fight the infections and survive. I just kept hoping and taking it a day at a time.'
It was another four months before Saif could come home for the first time – still weighing less than four pounds.
'I was waiting for the day,' said Sadia, who was full of praise for staff at Heartlands and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, who cared for her son.
'When I came home myself without taking Saif it felt like a part of me was missing.'
Happy family: Saif, pictured with Sadia, is three years old now. He's a
year behind others who are the same age, but is doing really well and
slowly catching up
Saif had to endure laser eye surgery when he was just weeks old, as well as several blood transfusions.
He also suffered a bout of pneumonia just before his first birthday and a month later picked up a respiratory cough and bronchitis.
He still has to wear a nasal gastric tube at night to help him gain weight.
And he continues to see speech and language therapists.
Sadia added: 'He’s still little – he’s a year behind but he’s doing really well and catching up slowly.
'He’s a lovely, bubbly child. He likes playing with his brother and sister and singing nursery rhymes.
'Saif could easily have suffered severed disabilities as a result of his premature birth.
'But I truly believe that it is because of all the love and care he received from us and the staff at Heartlands Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, that he only has mild developmental delays.
'I hope for the future that he’s a really happy and healthy child.'