David Ross Richardson is celebrating his birthday this week - a decade after he was given a tiny chance of survival.
The youngster was delivered at just under 24 weeks in the Royal Victoria Hospital in 2006, but has fought against the odds ever since.
“When he was born, he was given a 3% chance of survival,” explains his mum, Ruth Richardson. He weighed 1 pound 7 ounces and doctors told us he could have cerebral palsy or be deaf and blind.”
David Ross required a number of operations, including open heart surgery and eye surgery. Although his early arrival radically altered life for his Waringstown parents, Ruth and her husband David were willing to do all that it took to care for their son.
“He came home on oxygen,” Ruth shares. “The doctor told me that to give him the best chance at life, we should keep him in quarantine for the first two Winters - so he was basically quarantined for two years. Christmas and birthday presents were passed through the window and David did the grocery shopping at 11pm at night to lower the chances of bumping into people and catching any viruses!”
Ruth left work in order to care for her son’s needs but seeing his progress and love for life it has made each sacrifice worth it.
“David Ross has been in mainstream school since nursery,” says Ruth. “He’s full of humour and his teacher says he has her in stitches! He loves his school friends and integrates really well with everybody.”
David Ross is now a primary five pupil at Lurgan’s Dickson Primary School - as well as being a role model to his younger brother, Stefan:
“Stefan is six years old now and adores David Ross - he’ll say his big brother is his best friend!”
It is clear that Ruth and David’s positive outlook and relentless commitment to their children have been crucial to their son’s development, and shaped David Ross into the well-loved character he is today.
“I tend not to look backwards - you always want to look forward with him,” Ruth shares. “He’s happy and healthy and larger than life! Everybody knows him and everybody loves him - he has such an endearing character.”
Ruth and David are still extremely grateful to the staff at the Royal Hospital for their son’s care, and remain in touch with one of his nurses:
“The Royal was so good. The staff there are so dedicated - to do that job day-in, day-out. We’re still in contact with other parents who were there at the time - David Ross was the earliest to be born, with others delivering at 25 weeks.
“We want to thank the staff and pupils of Dickson Primary School, and all the therapists that have been so dedicated in caring for David Ross.”