TINY baby Eli has defied all odds and is now homeward bound after a five-month hospital stay in the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Eli was born 15 weeks premature and weighed only 485grams, making him one of the smallest babies ever born in Tasmania.
First-time parents Jodie Maggs and Scott Wood, of Ulverstone, said Eli’s journey – which included heart surgery at six weeks – had been an emotional roller-coaster.
‘‘It’s such a relief to be taking our boy home,’’ Miss Maggs said.
‘‘We’re tired and a bit nervous but incredibly happy.’’
Life-saving chest surgery had to be performed to close a large blood vessel connecting the two main arteries to Eli’s heart.
The high blood flow was straining his heart and lungs.
Mr Wood said he had been ‘‘taking it day by day’’.
‘‘It was a bit of a rough start for him,’’ Mr Wood said.
‘‘There were a few times there we thought it was going to be pretty grim.’’
The couple has been staying at Ronald McDonald House in Hobart, and said home on the North-West had been a long time coming.
‘‘The only way we’ve got through this is taking the blessings when you can,’’ Mr Wood said.
He said they got to see things most parents didn’t experience.
‘‘Things like his little ears developing as he grows,’’ he said.
RHH neonatal paediatric intensive care unit staff specialist Dr Tony de Paoli said Eli needed high-level mechanical respiratory support as well as intravenous and tube feeding, but was now breathing on his own and sucking all his feeds.
‘‘Eli is now nearly seven times heavier than he was at birth ...,’’ Dr de Paoli said.