'Sugar bag baby' Orla, born 15 weeks early at 1lb 8oz, turns 18

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz, but is celebrating her 1st birthday this week.
Pictures:SO

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz - Credit: Archant

She was born 15 weeks early and was given a 50/50 chance of survival. 

Back then Orla Douglass was dubbed the 'sugar bag baby' after the Norwich tiny tot was born weighing just 1lb 8oz. 

But little Orla never stopped fighting - and turned 18 this week with her friends and family around her at home in Drayton. 

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz, but is celebrating her 1st birthday this week.
Pictures:SO

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz - Credit: Archant

She said: "I never really knew I was different - it was pretty shocking when I began to appreciate what had happened when I was born."

Orla's picture first appeared in the Evening News with her mum Lacey's wedding ring dangling around her fragile wrist as she spent 13 weeks in hospital. 

Orla Douglass celebrates her 18th birthday
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Orla Douglass celebrates her 18th birthday Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Lacey, who was 29 when she gave birth to Orla, said: "It's a day of mixed emotions for me. We've had so many happy memories as a family that I don't want to dwell on the sadness - but there were days when I was terrified she wouldn't make it. 

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz, but is celebrating her 1st birthday this week. Mum Lacey Do

Orla when she turned one with parents Lacey and Peter - Credit: Archant

"I am so proud of her. When she was four we were told she had cerebral palsy so she needed an operation on her leg - then she wore a brace but she no longer needs it."

Orla Douglass celebrates her 18th birthday
With parents Lacey and Pete and Lacey's wedding ring
Byli

Orla Douglass celebrates her 18th birthday With parents Lacey and Pete and Lacey's wedding ring Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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And the Hellesdon High pupil says the condition doesn't hold her back unless she's worked a long day - either studying or at her weekend job in Primark. 

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz, but is celebrating her 1st birthday this week.Pictures:SO

Orla Douglass was born weighing 1lb 8oz, but is celebrating her 1st birthday this week. Pictures:SONYA BROWN Copy:Olivia Richwald For: Evening News ©Evening News 2004 - Credit: Archant

Her grandma Jill Smyth, who lives in Earlham Road, said: "She's always been such a happy girl. She's so kind and helps me out with my technical challenges."

Orla was later joined by brother Zach, 12, who was also born prematurely at just 4lb 8oz. 

Lacey said she and husband Peter had to take Orla's first few years day-by-day: "You can never imagine a day like her turning 18. She's taking her driving test next week but you can't even fathom it when your baby's in intensive care. 

LACEY DOUGLASS AND HER DAUGHTER ORLA ELIZABETH WHO WAS BORN 15 WEEKS PREMATURELY.

Lacey with baby Orla who was born 15 weeks early - Credit: ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2003.

"When she was growing up it was hour by hour, then day by day. Then you start worrying about her first year, her first cold, her first day of school. 

"I'm just so proud of what a lovely, kind girl she has grown up to be."

What is pre-eclampsia? 

Lacey suffered with pre-eclampsia ahead of the birth Orla, which lead her to being born so early. 

Lacey said: "It's so important to highlight the issue because a lot of women think they won't be impacted that early in the pregnancy - but you can be."

Signs of pre-eclampsia include severe headaches, vision problems, pain below the ribs and vomiting. 

Although many cases are mild, the condition can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby if it's not monitored and treated. 

If you're diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, you should be referred for an assessment by a specialist, usually in hospital.

Treatments include regular monitoring of mother and baby and labour may be induced with some women having caesarean sections. 

You'll be offered medicine to lower your blood pressure while you wait for your baby to be delivered.

When Sonya met Orla ... again

When Evening News photographer Sonya Duncan arrived in Drayton this week, it wasn't the first time she had met Orla Douglass. 

Some 17 years ago Sonya had photographed little Orla on her first birthday. 

She said: "I remember Orla as being a very happy little girl. 

"She was an absolute treat to photograph back then and it was so lovely to catch up with her again now she's all grown up. 

"I can't help but be moved by these stories. You go out and meet these people and hear what these parents have gone through. 

"To be able to go back and see how well Orla is doing - and her parents - is an absolute joy. It was also lovely to meet Zach. 

"Happy birthday Orla!"

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