A mum has called the medical staff who helped her family "fabulous" after her "miracle" daughter was born weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Karen Batt's daughter Betty was born at 23 weeks weighing just 650g — but after making an amazing recovery is set to start Alder Hey's Santa Dash later today.

Mum Karen called her daughter a "miracle" and a "little legend" after Betty, now four, spent the first 13 months of her life in intensive care.

READ MORE: Liverpool shoppers concerned over Omicron as city case discovered

Karen, 41, knew Betty could be born extremely early when her water's started leaking when she was just 18 weeks into her pregnancy.

The mum from Warrington told the ECHO: "It looked likely that Betty was going to come very, very early. And she did as she was born when I was just 23 weeks pregnant.

"She was just 650g. She was really, really tiny and very, very poorly.

"She was whisked away by the incredible neonatal team and they told me they were taking her to intensive care where she was put on a ventilator to support her breathing.

"That was the start of her rocky journey, and unfortunately it has been a difficult journey."

After spending the first eight months of her life at Liverpool Women's Hospital, Betty was transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

Betty had a number of lifesaving procedures including a tracheotomy to help her swollen airwaves and a surgery on her perforated bowel.

She spent her first birthday in the critical care unit before finally getting to go home for the first time when she was 13 months old.

Karen said Betty was "having a good run" before she became very sick once again when at home in December last year.

Karen said: "It was a terrifying time. She lost an enormous amount of skills she had learned, like she couldn't recognise us.

"I'm not sure where she got the strength from, but she's made a wonderful recovery.

"She recognises her family and she's come back to the old Betty which is incredible.

"We also know Alder Hey will always be there to catch her if she falls."

Karen and her husband Phil have endured a rollercoaster of a journey, but Karen said Betty inspired them to keep going all the way through.

She said: "There are the most hideous lows but then there are some incredible highs.

"One day Betty will be in intensive care, but you take those moments on the journey because it gives you hope for the next day to be a better day.

"Don't get me wrong, it was difficult to have that sort of determination to be hopeful we'd get her home, but we kept pushing through those really dark days knowing Betty has always done things her own way and in her own time.

"She's got some complex medical problems, but she's got fabulous people around making sure they do everything they can to help her where she is.

"She's just started preschool, a day we didn't know we would ever get to.

Betty was only 650g at birth
Betty was only 650g at birth

"She's so happy to be meeting new friends with such a big smile on her face and I just think those dark days are okay because we made it and keep pushing through.

"She was an absolute joy — she's a little legend."

Betty's illnesses have been hard for not only her parents, but her two older siblings — Stanley, 13, and Martha, 11.

The siblings tragically lost a younger brother called George who was born after only 22 weeks. They only had two hours to make memories with him before he passed away.

During Betty's early months, Karen said they were frightened and anxious as they were worrying when they would get a chance to hold their younger sister.

Karen said: "The day came where Betty was stable enough to be held by them and the nurse said I'm going to wrap Betty up like a little Betty burrito. Then you can give her a cuddle.

"It was so special to them and I know they still talk about it now — that's a memorable day for them. Amongst all the horrible times, there were really magical moments together as a family.

"They are incredible brave and wonderful. They adore Betty and she adores them."

Despite all this, Karen said the Batt family would not have "survived as a family" without the incredible skills of all those who helped care for Betty at Liverpool Women's, Warrington and Alder Hey.

She said: "We would not have survived as a family if it wasn't for the caring professionals from all the hospitals.

'Betty burrito' with brother Stanley and sister Martha
'Betty burrito' with brother Stanley and sister Martha

"They put their arms around us and helped us through those really difficult days and they've given us the skills and knowledge to look after them.

"Betty is a miracle and was so fragile and so vulnerable. The doctors and nurses gave their everything to make sure she stayed with us."

The Batt family will be starting this year's Santa Dash where they will be joined by former Liverpool FC star Jamie Carragher on the start line.

The hospital recently launched its new £2.5million surgical neonatal appeal to help develop a state-of-the-art unit for new-born babies and their families.

The new Surgical NICU is a joint project between Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust as the Liverpool Neonatal Partnership.

It will offer a further 22 neonatal cots for Liverpool, including 18 individual family rooms where parents can remain alongside their poorly new-borns receiving expert care.

Karen said Dad Phil and Stanley will be running the race while the rest of the family cheer them on from the side.

Betty and her family want to give something back to Alder Hey
Betty and her family want to give something back to Alder Hey

Karen said: "We're really excited that we're involved with the Dash. We've had to isolate throughout the pandemic, so knowing that we can be involved is amazing.

"It's going to be an exciting, fun day. It'll be lovely to see all those people in their fancy dress and hopefully raising lots of money and getting in the Christmas spirit.

"It's a real honour to be able to give something back to hospitals that have and continue to care for Betty.

"I don't think we'll ever stop saying thank you to all those people that have been involved. Thank you just isn't enough."

You can make a donation to Team Betty's fundraising page here.

Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what's on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here