Funeral held for "fighter" Portsmouth baby who died shortly before his first birthday as mum pays tribute to him

Loved ones and family members gathered to honour the life of a “warrior” baby who died shortly before his first birthday.

Jax Merritt, who was born prematurely at just 23 weeks on February 21, 2023, passed away on February 15 of this year. The brave little boy was given a low chance to survive due to a chronic lung disease, but battled throughout his life and defied medical expectations. His dad previously described him as a “warrior”.

The funeral was held at The Oaks in Barton Road, Havant, on Saturday morning (March 16) – organised by Forever Together funeral care. A vehicle procession was held as guests arrived to pay their respects to a beautiful baby boy who was loved by many.

Many of the attendees wore green in honour of Jax, as his nickname was “little frog”. Floral tributes spelling his name, “brother” and “son”, were presented at the ceremony. Five white doves were released in a poignant moment, with guests gathering together to pay their respects. On what would have been his birthday, the family released balloons into the air on top of Portsdown Hill as a tribute.

Jax’s health took a turn for the worst on December 29, 2023, and was taken to Southampton General Hospital. Mum Merry Key and partner Lee Merritt, of Portsmouth, were told their child might not make it home. Medical personnel at the hospital were present at the funeral.

Merry sent a statement to The News describing the impact of Jax’s passing and the funeral itself. She said: “I would like to make it known what a fighter my son was. He has left a huge hole in not just my heart but in anyone who ever got the chance to meet his smiling beautiful face.

“I never once thought I would leave Southampton hospital without him in my arms, they have done so much for my son and me in those seven weeks when we were there. I can't thank them enough, they even came to say goodbye to him, and that meant the world to me and my family.

"Emma from Forever Together has been amazing. I could not have got through it without her support, and both families couldn't thank those around us enough and the love of our best friends Kathy and Jodie's families who have been our rocks will forever be in our hearts.

“Jax fought to be here from the second I found out I was pregnant, I was hospitalised a lot and every time we thought I may have lost him, there he would be punching and kicking on the ultrasound. The last few months, I was bedridden, and signed off work for 20 weeks. He blessed us for almost a year and I'll be forever grateful I even got that time with him. His dad and I will never forget the precious times we did share with him.”