Event held at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for World Prematurity day

'He's my miracle' - the words of one mum whose son was born at 25 weeks weighing just over 900 grams.

Eoin McCarthy now plays for Linfield reserves and is studying sports science at Ulster University in Jordanstown. The 18-year-old told UTV that being born premature has never held him back.

He was speaking at an event with other children, parents and staff at the Royal Victoria hospital on Friday morning for a special event to mark world prematurity day.

Eoin McCarthy signed for Linfield's academy as a child. His mum, Ann McCarthy says she could not be any more proud of him: "He has done everything so well, from school to his football to university, he's just fab."

Eoin says that being born premature has never held him back: "I live my day-to-day life like everyone else does.

"I went to school, I was in St Joseph's college to fifth year and then I went to football academy in sixth year and come out of it with three A's at A-Level and now I am in university at Jordanstown doing a sports studies course for four years, so it hasn't held me back at all.

"I still play football three or four times a week for Linfield."

Fionnuala McArdle spoke to UTV back when her now eight year old daughter was born at just 23 weeks.

She was full of praise for the staff who helped her and her baby: "I have never met more wonderful like staff and doctors, they are miracle workers, all of them, honestly, they are miracle workers.

"They did everything for us and they saved my daughters life so I owe them everything."

Consultant David Sweet says "looking after premature babies is challenging but it is actually, there is always hope and I think for most families who embark on having a child they don't realise that there is sometimes potentially problems which come along, particularly if the babies are born too soon.

"So this world prematurity day is a kind of nice way of highlighting the sort of work that neonatal nurses and all the staff who look after these babies do."

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