‘Coke Can Kid’ born so early docs gave him just 5% chance of survival turns 30

A baby who was dubbed the "Coke Can kid" after he was born 12 weeks premature, has miraculously defied the odds and made an incredible transformation.

Jonathon Heeley weighed a mere 374 grams when he made a shock debut at the Mater Mothers' Hospital in Brisbane, Australia in 1992.

He was famously named after the soft drink because he weighed around the same size as a 375ml can. But his mother Gail Heeley said it was "fat compared to him."

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The little fighter endured a tough few days after his weight dropped to 338 grams which is around a 10th the size of a healthy infant.

Gail says his hands were "the size of my fingernail" and he was too fragile to hold until he reached six weeks old.

His discharge papers stated "future unknown" and he was so tiny that his first bath was taken in a kidney dish.

But now he is set to celebrate his 30th birthday and weighs a whopping 60 kilograms which is around 150 full cans of Coke.

Jonathon's chances of survival were extremely slim and he remains Mater's smallest surviving premature baby to this day.

He made leaps and bounds with his development and now owns a dance school in Hervey Bay, where he choreographs routines for his students.

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"I had a 5 per cent chance of survival. More than likely I probably shouldn't be here," Jonathon said.

"I take every day as a blessing. I'm very much living my life, doing what I want to do and making things happen for myself. I've been given this life which I'm really grateful for. I'm very motivated … because of my past."

He was delivered by C-section at 28 weeks' gestation after scans discovered he was gravely growth restricted and surrounded by threatening low levels of amniotic fluid.

With fears over his survival rate increasing, his mother was asked if she wanted to baptise him while he had the chance.

Have you shared a similar experience to Jonathon and Gail? Share your story at [email protected].

"To me that was giving up on him," Gail told ABC.

Gail endured a fertility battle "off and on" for 14 years and conceived Jonathon when she was in her mid-30s after taking medication.

After living day-to-day in the unknown, Gail was finally able to take her son home five months after he was born.

"We were very careful with him.

"But everything was fine. He came through everything."

The devoted mum signed him up for dance lessons when he hit the age of three, which ignited Jonathon's passion for performing arts.

"You're always constantly aware that you have to help them develop, more so than a full-term child," she added.

"I couldn't put him into football or things like that because he was a slight frame. We put him into dancing to help him with his coordination. He loved it."

On top of owning his own dance company, Jonathon is the artistic director at regional Queensland's first performing arts school.

When he isn't working, Jonathon can often be found spending time with his girlfriend Tegan Baker, who he has been with for 18 months.

"It doesn't cross my mind every day but every now and then I do reflect and go: 'OK wow, I might not have been here,'" Jonathon said.

"It's inspired a lot of other mothers to have hope over the years which has been really nice."

Jonathon hasn't decided what he will be doing to celebrate the milestone on July 3.

But his mother said she will forever be grateful and said he has made her "life complete."


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