Parents say thank you to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for saving their baby daughter

Every child's first birthday is special, but for little Imogen Tooke and her family it is perhaps even more of a celebration. For 12 months ago the Norwich youngster was fighting to survive and was delivered by emergency caesarean section after a scan showed her umbilical cord had became wrapped around her neck twice and her heartbeat was dropping.

Imogen's mum, Melissa Tooke, said she was told by doctors that if Imogen – who was born eight weeks early – had stayed in her womb just 30 minutes more, her daughter may not have survived.

But now Imogen is a happy, healthy and extremely smiley little girl and, as she approaches her first birthday on August 4, Miss Tooke and her partner James Payne, 26, want to say a big thank you to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital staff who helped their daughter.

Twenty-nine-year-old Miss Tooke, of Douro Place, off Dereham Road, said: 'The hospital staff are all brilliant and we just want to say thank you. If it was not for them we would not like to think what would have happened to Imogen.

'She is a very special baby. How she is now, you would not have any idea about what we went through.

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'She is a happy little girl, and she is always smiling. I am very proud of her. She is my pride and joy.'

Miss Tooke suffered a difficult pregnancy developing pre-eclampsia at about 27 weeks, and because the condition worsened she spent the month before Imogen was born in hospital.

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During her hospital stay Miss Tooke, who works for Tesco in Magdalen Road, had baby scans every other day – and it was a scan at 32 weeks which prompted the emergency caesarean section and potentially saved her baby's life.

'The man did the scan and then went quiet for a few seconds before he asked me if I had felt Imogen move much recently,' she said.

'I said she had not been as lively as she normally was, and they took me for another scan where she still was not moving much.

'They then rushed me in and before I knew it I had had Imogen. From the time I had the scan to the time I had Imogen it was 20 minutes or so.

'They said if it was not for that scan, and if she was inside me for another half an hour, she would not be here.

'We just owe so much to the hospital.'

Imogen was born eight weeks early, and weighing just 2lb and 8oz, at 10.14am on August 4 last year.

'My sister's wedding ring fitted around her foot and leg she was so tiny. Her head fitted in the palm of your hand,' said Miss Tooke.

'The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff were brilliant, and as the days went by Imogen got stronger.

'One month and one day after she was born she came home.'

Almost a year on Imogen now weighs 16lb 15oz and is doing well.

'She is a very happy little girl and a very good little girl. She sleeps through the night, she can roll over, hold a bottle and she says 'dadada,' said Miss Tooke, who has covered the walls of their home with pictures of Imogen's progress over the past year.

'They are important because I can look at them and remember what Imogen went through. The scan saved her life.'

For Imogen's first birthday Miss Tooke said they were planning a family celebration with balloons, a cake and streamers.

Mr Alastair McKelvey, Consultant Obstetrician and Subspecialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, said: 'I well remember looking after Melissa.

'We were very fortunate to find, at a scheduled fetal ultrasound, that baby Imogen was in distress and we had to perform an immediate caesarean delivery to save her.

'It is thankfully very unusual to encounter this situation at an ultrasound scan.

'I'm delighted to hear how well mum and baby are doing and we wish Imogen a wonderful first birthday and many happy returns!'

Do you have a story about an inspiring child? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428, or email

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