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02 / 01 / 2009 - Born at just 23 weeks, the baby who defied our abortion laws
When Lexie Slater-Folksman was born at 23 weeks - an age at which babies can still be aborted - she weighed just 1lb 8oz.
She was put on a life support machine and her parents were warned their daughter might not pull through.
She was so premature her eyes hadn't even developed properly. At a month old she underwent laser surgery on her eyes and then spent week after week on ventilator machines after she suffered collapsed lungs.
But Lexie defied the odds and gradually gained strength.
Now, six months after her birth, she weighs a healthy 8lb and has finally been allowed home, to the joy and relief of her parents, 20-year-old Sarah Slater and her fiance Richard Folksman, 25.
They say Lexie's case proves that the abortion laws are outdated and should be changed. At 23 weeks, Lexie was born a week before the time limit for termination.
In May MPs voted for the upper time limit for abortions to remain at 24 weeks after rejecting proposals to reduce the limit to as little as 12 weeks.
Anti-abortion campaigners had argued the time limit for termination was too long, saying a baby's rights should be considered at the point it had the 'chance of life'.
It is a stance Miss Slater shares. Speaking at the family home in Wigan, she said: 'We're so glad to have Lexie home with us at last and it just shows how outmoded our laws on abortion are.
'Some mothers-to-be would be able to legally terminate their pregnancy at 23 weeks - yet my Lexie is living proof babies can survive being born so prematurely.
'I never realised a baby would be so well developed at 23 weeks and they do have a chance of life.'
She added: 'I'm so grateful to everyone at the hospital who helped to keep our daughter alive. She's a little fighter and I can't imagine life without her.'
She and her fiance, a roofer, have a two-year-old daughter, Teegan, and they were delighted to discover that Miss Slater was pregnant with their second child in February.
But a week later, she was taken to hospital with severe stomach pains and doctors feared she had suffered an ectopic pregnancy.
The baby was so small it didn't show on a scan. However, hormone tests confirmed she was pregnant.
At 22 weeks, she was taken to hospital again after her waters broke. Doctors attempted to halt the labour amid fears the baby wouldn't survive.
Less than a week later, Miss Slater gave birth to her daughter.
She said: 'Richard was there with me through the whole thing. He's not really one for showing his emotions - but when I went into labour with Lexie, he just cried.
'When she came out they showed me a quick glance of her. She was absolutely tiny.
'They had an incubator all ready for her and took her to the neonatal unit.
'It was scary to see her looking like that, so tiny and surrounded by wires. I couldn't stop crying. Her skin was all red, like she was burnt. Only Richard and I were allowed to touch her. We could put our hands through the side of the incubator at first, then we were allowed to hold her.'
Over the next five months the couple spent countless hours at their daughter's bedside.
'Lexie was obviously very, very ill,' her mother said. 'Her lungs hadn't developed properly and they kept collapsing.
'She also had surgery early on at five weeks because the back of her eyes hadn't developed. They were glued shut when she was born. When she opened them for the first time, I was so excited and relieved.
'She will probably have to wear glasses when she is older but if that is the only side effect then I'm really not bothered.
'She was in Hope Hospital in Manchester for 15 weeks, and then was in hospital in Wigan. It was such a relief when she got to Wigan - she was closer to all of us.'
Lexie - who was back in time to spend her first Christmas at home - still has an oxygen machine to help her breathe, and will suffer from lung problems for the rest of her life, but she is gaining strength each day.
Her mother added: 'Lexie is an inspiration - it just goes to show that you should never give up hope.'
Source : DAILY MAIL