Mother reveals how her premature baby was born with red skin so transparent her brain was visible

Rachel Hosie

A mother has revealed how her premature baby was born with red skin so transparent her brain was visible.

Mother-of-three Cheri Price, now 22, gave birth to daughter Hailie Dillon on February 23 last year after just 23 weeks and six days of pregnancy.

This meant that Hailie’s skin had not had time to develop pigmentation and her skull wasn’t fully developed either.


The 1lbs 2oz baby survived a collapsed lung and seven minutes without breathing after she was born at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, but 18 days later, Price was able to hold her daughter for the first time.

“When Hailie was born, it sounds bad to say it, but she looked like a red alien,” said Price, who lived on the Isle of Wight.”

“She was still in the foetus stage and she didn’t look like a baby at all - we couldn’t believe she even survived.

“From birth she was put in an incubator and we couldn’t touch her - but we could see all the veins of her brain through her red skin.”

Price is particularly proud of Hailie considering according to the NHS, newborns are only considered “viable” after 24 weeks of pregnancy, and even then only have a 35 per cent chance of survival.

Hailie is now a healthy one-year-old.

(Cheri Price /

On January 20 last year, Price got her first contractions - she was just 20 weeks pregnant. However she claims the hospital on the Isle of Wight, St Mary’s at Newport, said they didn’t have the facilities to accommodate mothers before the 24 week mark.

So Price and her boyfriend Timothy Dillon, 32, travelled to Darlington, Teeside, where they could be closer to his family.

However the journey up to the north east of England wasn’t easy, with Price battling contractions for eight hours. She and Dillon were terrified their baby wouldn’t survive without hospital care.

Price then spent a fortnight in and out of hospital in Middlesbrough and was about to head back home because she was nearing 24 weeks when her waters broke on February 21.

“We just thought we would take the chance at a larger hospital - and we were closer to relatives so they could help with childcare for Jack,” Price said.

“I was discharged - but then my waters broke while I was watching Hollyoaks two days later."

She gave birth to Hailie at James Cook University hospital in Middlesbrough. The tiny baby needed resuscitation after being born, didn’t breathe for seven minutes and also suffered a collapsed lung two days later. But she survived.

Price says the fact that the hospital on the Isle of Wight would not take her is a “sore subject.”


“I would expect a hospital on an island with a boat trip needed to get the mainland to have the capacity to have grade one level care.

“I’m so proud of her, what we’ve been through and what she has been through has been horrendous. We thought we would lose her at so many points and we’ve had no help whatsoever.”

Price and baby Hailie were not able to leave the hospital in Middlesbrough for three months as the parents waited to see whether the little one would survive.

(Cheri Price /

It was touch and go whether she would be able to see too - Hailie’s eyes had been fused together and her retina wasn’t developing properly.

She was diagnosed with stage three ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) and had to visit specialist hospitals in Southampton and Portsmouth by private plane, but her sight was eventually saved.

On June 19 last year, Hailie was finally allowed to go home - two days after she was originally due.

Isle of Wight St Mary's hospital has been contacted for comment.​