A mum whose baby was born at just 24 weeks was so convinced he’d die that she researched infant coffins.

But tiny Maxime Lasserre has defied the odds to survive his first six months despite multiple threats to his health.

His parents Samantha and Bruno today spoke of their joy at the remarkable story.

“I thought he was going to be dead,” Samantha told Surrey Live .

“I thought he was going to be stillborn. I think, in my mind, I resigned myself to the fact that he would be dead and that anything more than that is a bonus.

“I just thought he was going to pass away and I tried to focus on a funeral, I thought that might bring me some peace. I looked at baby coffins.”

The Sainsbury’s shift manager went into labour in January but medics at Kingston Hospital, south-west London, decided she must give birth at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, 20 minutes away.

Samantha said: “They said if I delivered there, then Maxime would almost certainly die.

“They said they could resuscitate him, but they could not keep him there, so they would have to transport him.

“They didn’t want to transport me because, if I am in the ambulance and I deliver the baby, he certainly won’t survive in there because they can’t even resuscitate him.

“I said that if he is going to die here [Kingston], then we might as well take the shot and go.”

Managing to secure a bed at St George’s was a small victory in itself, but Samantha and Bruno had already prepared themselves for the worst possible news.

Samantha said: “The best thing about our marriage is that we were going through a hard time, but we still tried to make the best of that 48 hours.

“Maxime was determined throughout this whole journey and in wanting to be here. Bruno and I tried to make the best of it.”

Maxime was born little more than the size of an adult hand. He was put straight into an incubator and it would be another three weeks until Samantha and Bruno were able to touch him.

“We weren’t allowed to touch him because he was see-through,” said Samantha.

“We were really lucky because he came out head first, so he didn’t get stuck or need to be pulled.

What are the risks of premature birth?

About 60,000 babies, or one in every 13, are born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy) in the UK every year, according to the charity Bliss.

The earlier they are born, the more vulnerable they are because they haven’t fully developed in the womb

Some may suffer from conditions such as behavioural difficulties, long term health problems or cerebral palsy as they develop into children and adults.

Some research has found that the earlier a baby is born the higher their risk of having special educational needs at school, the charity said.

It added: “It is important to remember that every baby is different and will develop differently. If you are worried about your baby’s development please speak to a health professional.”

“They were doing it all in the room where we were, so I was on the bed and could see everything. I was still delivering the placenta so it I guess I was a bit busy and wasn’t keeping an eye on the clock.

“For Bruno it was worse because he was just watching what they were doing to Maxime.

“They only found 10 cases of babies in the world that had been written about it at this gestation. Eight of them were dead and only two had survived.”

In the months that followed, Maxime would have to overcome other hurdles, such as a perforated bowel, periods of sepsis , milk curds and having to come through life-saving surgery.

Samantha continued: “His bowel perforated when he was five days old, so they took him into emergency surgery and I remember having to sign a disclaimer saying possible consequences of this are death in bold letters.

“We were just in floods of tears and we watched him go down into theatre. When he came back, they said he was very lucky as he only lost 2cm worth of bowel, which for him is amazing as some babies lose all of their bowel.

“When he came out of theatre he had a stoma bag, so they had made his bowel and put it on the outside to his tummy and gave him a little bag. That was the first medical milestone he had to overcome.”

But now Maxime breathes freely without oxygen, something that some premature babies cannot do for their first three years.

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He is also able to take milk orally from the breast and, minus a few follow-up appointments, Maxime is now able to live life as normal.

His final operation on June 4 was to reverse his stoma. He has a large scar on his stomach to show for it, but surgeons were able to close the bowel, meaning a significantly reduced chance of further infections.

Samantha added: “He was a champ and he got through it. It was such a tough week but he got through it. He has had about six episodes of sepsis, he was completely septic, so he has had about 20 blood transfusions.

“His blood is not even his own, they have had to mix it with a lot of other blood and he has battled that.”

Ronald McDonald, an accommodation charity, provided a free place to stay for the couple, saving the lengthy daily trip from Aldershot to Tooting and provided further support in the way of comforts like Easter eggs and presents.

Support from their family included Bruno’s mother moving over from France for three months to help with cooking and cleaning while they were away from home, neighbours feeding their cats and taking their bins out, and Samantha’s parents visiting the hospital at every opportunity.

Debts, Samantha and Bruno say, they will never be able to repay.