Baby born four months premature at Addenbrooke's in Cambridge finally meets his big brother

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A premature baby has finally been able to meet his big brother - seven months after he was born weighing the equivalent of a tin and a half of tomatoes.

Born at 24 weeks, Rory Byers' survival has been described as a "miracle".

Weighing just 1lb 3oz - or 540g - his chances of survival were considered low but he defied the odds, surviving bowel surgery at two weeks old, contracting sepsis four times and undergoing 20 blood transfusions.

Rory, whose family is from St Neots in Cambridgeshire, remains at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, and is still not well enough to come home.

But a recent move from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to a paediatric ward meant he was finally able to meet his big brother Zak for the first time.

Rory's mum, Kimberly Byers, said Covid restrictions had meant the three-year-old had not been able to come to the hospital and added: "We just know he will be the best big brother."

Rory Byers, who was born at 24 weeks, finally meets his big brother Zak at the age of seven months. Credit: Family photo

"To think that Rory survived being born in the first place is pretty incredible," said Mrs Byers - whose own survival was at risk after she contracted sepsis during the birth.

"To still be in hospital seven months later - with everything he's gone through - and he is still here.

"He's a really happy little boy, really easy-going and you just feel sad sometimes that he doesn't have a clue what's in the outside world."

Mrs Byers gave blood for the first time before Christmas, on the first day she was permitted after pregnancy, as a way of thanking the donors who had provided the blood used for Rory's transfusions.

Rory's mum and his dad Glenn travel to Addenbrooke's every day to see him and know he will not be allowed home until he has been weaned off his Hickman line - which is being used to get him enough nutrition.

The daily 50-mile round trip to the hospital and the cost of extra childcare for Zak is taking its toll on the family. They estimate they are spending £40 a week on fuel alone on top of car park charges and food.

Mrs Byers said: "My paid maternity ends in March and due to the expensive life of NICU, we will be truly struggling to pay our bills, meaning I will need to go back to work - but I don't even know if my baby will be home.

"There is very little help out there for people in our situation and I know we won't be the last. I just wish things were different."

According to the charity Bliss, it costs parents £282 each week their baby is in neonatal care.

Kimberly Byers travels to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge every day to see premature baby Rory - but her paid leave will soon end. Credit: Family photo

The government is set to introduce neonatal leave and pay entitlement, which will give parents an extra £160 a week for up to 12 weeks, but it will not come in until April 2023.

The Byers are campaigning for it to be introduced immediately to help more families and have started a government petition.

Mr Byers said: "We won't see any benefit of this now as Rory's not in an ICU, he's in paediatrics, but we just want to campaign to help other families in this situation."

A friend has also set up a crowdfunding page for the family, to help them meet the additional costs they are facing. So far it has raised £4,575 of its £5,000 target.