TO MEET 15-month-old Blake McKneil, it is hard to imagine the battle he faced just to see his first birthday.
Blake was born prematurely at 27 weeks after his mother Maree went into unexpected labour and was flown from Gladstone to Mater Mothers Private Hospital in Brisbane.
"It wasn't until Blake was born that we found out I had an infection in the uterus which had passed onto him and ultimately brought on labour," Mrs McKneil said.
"My gynaecologist had warned me that I may have my little boy up to 10 weeks early but I never really expected it to happen so early and certainly never suspected that an infection would be the force behind going into early labour."
Weighing only 920 grams, Blake spent nine and a half weeks in Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit, before being flown to Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Rockhampton, where he spent a further four days before finally heading home on Easter Saturday 2011.
"Despite the worry and nervousness I felt on the way to Brisbane, as soon as I arrived at the Mater I felt relaxed, knowing I was in the best possible hands," Mrs McKneil said.
"The Mater staff are just wonderful-they are very responsive and supportive and I placed my full trust in them.
"I cannot thank the whole neonatal team enough-the neonatologist, nurses, lactation specialists, physiotherapist, eye and hearing test ladies and everyone else who played a part in Blake's birth-for what they did for my little boy."
Blake is now a happy and healthy baby who has reached all his milestones.
To help support other children like him, register for the Mater Foundation's family fun day at Spinnaker Park on Sunday May 27, which includes a 5km fundraising walk.
Go to materfoundation.org.au or call 1800 440 155.