MIRACLE baby Olivia Norton returned to Broomfield Hospital to thank the doctors and nurses who saved her life.
Her joyful parents Louise Bearman, 31, and partner Paul Norton, 36, of Witham, praised the maternity unit workers who battled as their first child's life hung in the balance.
Within two hours of birth Olivia was given the first of three complete blood transfusions because of dangerously low haemoglobin levels.
Mum Louise had undergone an emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic because she had not felt any signs of movement with five weeks to go to her due date.
Louise said: "We cannot speak more highly of the medical staff, they were all brilliant and their swift, professional actions undoubtedly saved Olivia's life, which in another two hours would have been lost."
The drama began on September 10, 2011, when Louise and Paul were looking forward to ordering a Chinese meal and watching The X Factor, delighted that they would become parents for the first time around October 15.
"I began to get worried by the lack of movement of my baby," Louise said, so Paul drove her to the hospital.
An examination confirmed Louise's fears. She underwent an emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic.
She said: "When I came round, I was told my baby's condition was critical. I couldn't take it all in – it seemed like it was happening to somebody else and I was watching the situation unfold. Nothing had prepared me for this."
Olivia was born with a haemoglobin level of only three, normally around 18. Haemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells.
Within two hours of being born, she underwent an emergency blood transfusion. In the next 48 hours she needed another two complete blood transfusions.
Sharon Pilgrim, an advanced neonatal nurse practitioner, told the Chronicle: "It was a miracle she survived. She was incredibly pale when born and had difficulties breathing.
"There was no sign of blood loss prior to the caesarean or during the operation. It was only when we carried out further tests on Louise that we discovered the baby had lost blood directly into her mum's blood circulation.
"I have never known such low haemoglobin level in 20 years in the job, but she perked up quite quickly following the first transfusion."
Seven months on Olivia is in fine health with no long-term problems.
Proud father Paul, a greengrocer, added: "Olivia is as bright as a button, always alert and moving. The nursing staff are right, she's our little miracle."