Josh Smith of Epworth was just 1lb 13ozs when he was born, and his chances of survival were seen as extremely slim.
But the ‘miracle baby’ and triplet who lost his sisters in their first weeks of life has just celebrated his eighteenth birthday - with a tattoo in memory of his lost siblings.
Josh marked his coming of age by having his lost sisters’ names and a symbol of eternal life etched on his body, to share their joint birthday in his own special way.
Mum Georgette (George) Smith, 42, told the Bells how Josh was the one triplet she was able to take home from hospital, following several harrowing weeks in 1995.
Born naturally at 26 weeks, Josh’s tiny sisters Georgia and Ellie lost their brave battles for life after five days and 12 weeks respectively.
“After losing Ellie I begged to be able to take Josh home, although he was still under the required weight, and eventually they let me go,” said Mrs Smith, from her home on Burnham Road.
“We always called Josh our miracle baby because not only did he survive against the odds, he grew up healthily and is a typical teenager who loves music and spending time with his girlfriend.” She added: “We knew that if Ellie survived she would have had a disability because of a bleed on her brain.”
Baby Josh was just 3lbs 15ozs when he returned home with mum to their then home near Grimsby. After weeks at Hull the family had been transferred to Grimsby hospital.
“It was the day after Ellie died and I’d had enough,” said Mrs Smith. “Josh was fine, bar one incident when I fell asleep feeding him in bed and he rolled off me on to the floor. We were straight to hospital to get him checked and thankfully he was unhurt. I was so distraught at the time.”
She continued: “I look at him now and can’t believe all that we went through. He was prone to stomach infections in his first weeks which is why doctors thought he wouldn’t make it.
“We had a massive party for his first birthday. For his eighteenth on August 19 we had all the family round and he went out with his friends.
“He’s at John Leggott College to finish his A-levels then hopes to do a degree in media studies as he’s crazy about music and technology.”
The family moved to Epworth in January 1998, and Josh attended Epworth Primary School then South Axholme School before moving on to college.
When his mum posted Josh’s birthday on Facebook, with emotive reminders of the sisters he lost, 74 people showed support, with over 20 commenting on the landmark occasion.
Sarah Edenbrow wrote: “A time for celebration, reflection, sadness..but mostly happy birthday to Josh.”
Despite her initial harrowing experience, following fertility treatment when she was 24, George had further treatment, that resulted in the birth of Callum, a brother for Josh who is now 15.