21 years after her own premature birth, Sophie Proud is now a neonatal nurse helping preemies survive

By Dave Andrusko

Sophie is a symbol of hope for the parents of premature babies (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

The British love to compare the weight of premature babies to a 2lb, 2oz in a bag of sugar. By that standard, 21 years ago, Sophie Proud was the original “sugar bag baby.”

Only when she was born at 24 weeks, Sophie weighed only 1lb 7oz!

Jeremy Armstrong, writing for The Mirror tells us

The first baby in Britain to survive such an early birth, she had open-heart surgery, an operation on her eyes, 10 bouts of pneumonia, blood poisoning which almost cost her a hand and collapsed lungs.

But Sophie made an amazing recovery and is now a symbol of hope for the parents of premature children on her ward.

Now in one of those wonderful twists, where life comes full circle, Sophie Proud is now a nurse in a neonatal unit at James Cook hospital, Middlesbrough. She is doing for other preemies what was done for her in 1997.

If that weren’t sweet enough, Armstrong tells us her older sister Aimee Dornan, 31, also works as a neonatal nurse! In fact, Sophie replaced her big sister at James Cook hospital when Aimee moved on.

“I speak to parents on the ward and support them,” Ms. Proud told Armstrong. “Many say it gives them hope knowing what the outcome can be.”

And she knows all about hoping against hope.

“My mum was told my chance of survival was very poor.

“They were not sure if I would be able to walk or talk and warned my development would be delayed. It looked bleak.

Aimee, who is the mother of two herself, now works in the Royal Victoria. “I always remember watching the procedures being carried out there when Sophie was born,” she told Armstrong. “I loved speaking to the nurses and I told them, ‘When I’m a big girl, I want to be a neonatal nurse.’”

“I always knew I wanted to give something back, Sophie concluded. “Growing up I was always aware of what a neonatal nurse does.

“I did not realise the significance of what I’d been through but I do now.