The parents of a baby boy, who died a week before Christmas, have paid tribute to their son as a “true little fighter.”
Ten-month-old Thomas Leslie Swain had undergone several major operations, including complicated bowel surgery, after he was born prematurely at 23 weeks, weighing only 1lbs 3oz.
But tough little Thomas amazed both his parents, Chris and Jolene, and medical staff with his strength and ability to bounce back and keep on fighting.
Jolene said: “Thomas really was a true little fighter and he has touched the hearts of so many people.
“Everyone who met him fell in love with him and all the medical staff and surgeons who treated him could not believe how strong he was.
“When he was born our consultant looked at him and said he was not one who was going to play by the rules.”
Born at Burnley General Hospital, Thomas was transferred to the neo natal intensive care unit at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he underwent surgery at eight weeks old for a serious bowel condition known as Nectrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) a potentially fatal condition in premature babies.
Jolene (37) said: “Thomas had a stoma after the operation but he just took it in his stride and bounced back after a couple of days. He was such a happy baby who was always smiling despite everything that had happened to him. ”
Two weeks later Thomas had laser eye surgery for a common condition in premature babies that can cause blindness. Within days Thomas had recovered and eye tests showed his vision was fine. He continued to thrive and develop and Chris and Jolene were preparing to celebrate his first Christmas at their home in Fell View, Burnley, when Thomas died suddenly after suffering from reflux.
Chris said: "As he was not as fully developed as babies his age the fluid went into his voice box and he could not get rid of it."
The devastated couple have paid tribute to medical staff at Burnley, Manchester, Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool and Ronald McDonald House for their care and support, including their consultant Mr Ross Craigie.
Jolene said: "We want to thank them for everything they have done for Thomas and also our family and friends who have been so supportive."
A celebration of Thomas' life will be held next Thursday (December 29th) at St Luke's Church in Brierfield at 1pm followed by burial at Burnley. The family are asking for donations to the Ronald McDonald House in their son's memory c/o Alderson and Horan Funeral Service, Rossendale Road, Burnley.