‘Living miracle’ Ellis celebrates Christmas milestone at home in Sheringham
Christmas Day will be a particularly poignant celebration for brave little Ellis Jay from Sheringham - as it will mark a day his parents never thought he would see.
The smiling youngster was born extremely premature alongside twin brother Alfie, but has gone on to defy doctors and the medical conditions that have plagued him since birth to celebrate his third birthday in time for another Christmas with his family.
His parents Vikki and Andrew and sister Chloe, nine, will also be commemorating another milestone in Ellis' extraordinary story in the new year when he starts at nursery.
But despite the remarkable achievements he has made, the family's festive celebrations will be tinged with sadness as they will also herald the third anniversary of Alfie's death.
The twins were delivered at 28 weeks by emergency caesarean on December 21, 2008 and spent their first days in intensive care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
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And although it looked as though Alfie - who weighed 2lb 5oz - was the healthier twin he tragically died on Christmas Eve just three days after he was born.
Mrs Jay, 38, said: 'On Christmas Eve at 9.20pm we let off a sky lantern and on the twins' birthday we release a balloon with happy birthday.
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'You look at Ellis and think Alfie should be here as well, but you have to look at Ellis and think 'look how far he's come'.
'I'm sure Alfie's get up and go and spirit to fight is all in his brother.'
Ellis - who tipped the scales at just 1lb 9oz when he was born - spent nearly six months in hospital after finally coming home to Hannah Close where he has made astonishing progress, including taking his first steps aged two-and-a-half.
Mrs Jay, who runs her own cleaning business, added: 'He suddenly got up, held his sister's hand and took those few steps, we just sobbed. And when he started he just didn't stop.
'He's overcome so many hurdles and even the doctors looked at him and said 'we never thought we'd see him walking'. He's a living miracle.'
Ellis has also been able to come off the oxygen supply he was reliant on and undergone several operations including one to work on his hernias, which doctors feared he might not survive.
But the youngster still suffers from feeding issues, poor weight gain and learning delays and his consultants are considering fitting him with a stomach tube in February to help him tolerate food.
His family are taking his progress one day at a time, but are excited about the new year as he prepares to start at Sheringham Nursery. Ellis will be supported by a one to one tutor and has already started to get to know nursery staff in readiness for his first day in January.
'Sheringham Nursery have been absolutely amazing and we're looking forward to him starting and enjoying it and making friends,' Mrs Jay said.
And despite the ongoing difficulties he faces, Ellis is a happy little boy who 'smiles all the time'.
'We've never had to tell him off because he's such a happy child, he does his own little things and he's just a breath of fresh air,' Mrs Jay added.
'Chloe finds Christmas extremely difficult but she can appreciate seeing Ellis' happy face opening presents, which is something we could never, ever have dreamed of and now it's here.'