A KEIGHLEY mum whose baby boy battled for life after being born several months prematurely has paid tribute to a charity for its support.
Little Atif Begum weighed just 1lb 9ozs when he arrived, at 26 weeks, at Leeds General Infirmary.
He was struggling to breathe and was rushed into the intensive care unit for specialist treatment.
After two weeks on a ventilator further complications arose, and Atif had to undergo surgery to remove a hernia.
Now the tough tot is back at home, in Victoria Street, and fighting fit.
This week his mother, Aklema, praised the Sick Children’s Trust for helping the family through its ordeal.
The charity provided a home for her and partner Mamun at its Eckersley House accommodation, close to the hospital, for seven weeks.
"I was discharged five days after Atif’s birth and panicked about being away from him for any length of time," said Aklema, 30.
"Knowing that we could stay somewhere just two minutes' walk from our baby’s ward made me the happiest mum ever.
"The house was so homely and had everything we could ever need.
"Staying there enabled Mamun and myself to be present for Atif all day, every day, and it also helped us to learn about the essential care he needed.
"Twice a day we had skin to skin cuddles too, which was so special. If we had been commuting to and from home every day, we wouldn’t have bonded with Atif so early on.
"Atif changed throughout his stay in hospital – not only did he put on weight and grow in strength, but his little personality began to come out too.
"Thanks to Eckersley House we could watch him grow, bond with him every day and be there when he opened his eyes for the first time."
The couple's two other children, Akib, 10, and Isha, six, stayed with family but visited regularly.
"We really missed them and it was lovely to be able to spend time together with Atif and also have some time as a family in Eckersley House," said Aklema.
After nearly two months in LGI, Atif was transferred to Airedale Hospital. He spent five weeks there before being allowed home.
"He is now thriving and we cannot thank the Sick Children’s Trust enough," said Aklema.
"They enabled us to stay as a family and without them we wouldn’t have coped financially, physically or mentally."
The trust is currently building its 10th 'Home from Home', in Newcastle.
Visit sickchildrenstrust.org for further information about the charity.