ELEVEN years ago Oliver Grant and Jerome Smith were fighting for their lives.
Oliver was born 13 weeks early and weighed 2lb 1oz while Jerome was born 11 weeks early and weighed just 1lb 8oz.
But now the 11-year-olds are the best of friends – and so are their mums Carole McParland and Carol Smith.
They bonded during their time at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Special Care Baby Unit and became firm friends.
They are full of praise for staff at the unit and got the chance to thank them at the Special Care Baby Unit Party organised to celebrate the unit before it closes later this month.
Carole McParland, of Edgerton, is Oliver’s mum.
She said: “It was so wonderful, I cannot explain how I feel.
“The wonderful nurses and doctors saved our babies lives.
“It felt quite emotional, however it was fabulous to see everybody.
“My friend Carol and I spent a long time on the unit and all the nurses did remember us.
“Our boys are a credit to them and we would like to dedicate our stories to the nurses who cared for our babies.
“Our 11-year-old babies are the best of friends and so are we.
“We have the unit to thank for the friendship between our children and also ourselves.”
Oliver, a pupil at Lindley Junior School, was born on January 14 1997 and was in the unit for 14 weeks.
He weighed 2lbs 1oz and needed to be transferred to St James Hospital in Leeds for a hernia operation.
Jerome, a pupil at Moldgreen Primary School, was born on March 3 1997 and was in the unit for almost five months.
He was also transferred to St James Hospital in Leeds for a hernia operation, but returned to HRI where Oliver was.
Both boys made magnificent progress and are now happy, healthy and live full and adventurous lives.
Their mums Carole McParland and Carol Smith, of Almondbury, bonded during their time in hospital and became firm friends as their boys grew up.
Mrs McParland added: “It was so delightful to see all the nurses who cared for my son in 1997 who was born 13 weeks early.
“They both had breathing problems so we could offer each other support because we both spent a considerable amount of time at the unit in 1997.”
The unit at HRI will be closed by August 4 with all neo-natal care transferred to Calderdale Royal Hospital.
Mrs McParland added: “I feel very sad in respect the future memories of the Huddersfield Special Care Baby Unit will cease at the end of July.
“The staff, their hard work, determination, the laughs, the stories, the support, the tears, the kindness – everything remembered.
“The staff of the Special Care Baby Unit are all angels that we are so very thankful to.”