BORN 13 weeks early, tiny Millah Varty-Giulletti clung to life for just 17 days, despite the dedicated efforts of neo-natal staff.

Nicky Giulletti and Paula Varty’s daughter should have arrived in spring but she was born on December 21, the first day of last winter, weighing just two pounds one and a half ounces.

Delivered into the round-theclock care of doctors and nurses on Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital’s neo-natal unit, Millah at first appeared to be overcoming the odds. However, due to her prematurity she caught an infection.

Her parents, from Cherwell Walk, Bettws, Newport, were so impressed by the care their daughter received they were determined to say ‘thank you’.

Now they have handed over £1,800 from a number of sources, primarily a sponsored bike ride in June.

“The staff in the unit were fantastic, and the support and kindness they gave to Nicky and myself throughout Millah’s life and after she died, we couldn’t fault,” said Ms Varty.

“We wanted to do something to show our appreciation and it just snow-balled.”

Mr Giulletti, a mountain biking enthusiast, did the bike ride with seven friends and family members, while another friend ran the route.

Mr Giulletti hopes to make the bike ride an annual event.

Ms Varty’s friends at the Corazon tattoo and body piercing parlour in her home townof Upton on The Wirral, Merseyside, also got involved, raising several hundreds of pounds.

“We even got a donation from Australia, from my mum’s cousin,” she said. “We’re really pleased to be able to support the unit like this, the staff do a wonderful job.

“I’d like in particular to thank Dr (Siddartha) Sen, who was on duty when Millah took ill. I understand he stayed with her after his shift had finished.”

Donations to the unit are used to buy specialist equipment.