Tributes to "warrior” Portsmouth baby born prematurely who passes away days before first birthday

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Tributes have been paid to a “warrior” baby born prematurely who passed away days before his first birthday.

Baby Jax. Pic: Go Fund Me/familyBaby Jax. Pic: Go Fund Me/family
Baby Jax. Pic: Go Fund Me/family | go fundme/fam

As reported last week, baby Jax Merritt was born on February 21 last year at just 23 weeks. But despite being given little chance of surviving, the “brave” little boy had almost made it to being one year old.

Jax’s health took a turn for the worse before he was taken to Southampton General Hospital on December 29. Doctors delivered the devastating news to mum Merry Key and her partner Lee Merritt, of Portsmouth, that their boy may not make it home. Despite his brave battle, Jax sadly died on February 15 - just six days before his first birthday.

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Dad Lee, posting on social media, said: “Sleep tight my prince. Love you forever.” In a separate post he added: “I will always love you my beautiful baby boy. The most loving happy bundle of joy anyone could ever ask for. I was so proud to be your daddy. You were the best thing I will ever have.

“You had the fight of a lion and were a true miracle. Sleep tight my prince, no more pain from your broken hearted dad.”

A fundraiser was set up by Merry’s best friend Kathy Curtis to support the family. Now people are being urged to donate to give Jax the "send off he deserves". A balloon release will be held on Jax's birthday on Wednesday.

Kathy said: “As you may know, Jax went to sleep on February 15. So I am asking you all to please share this page far and wide. We need more money to give Jax the best send off we can. No parent should be going through what Merry and Lee are, and there is nothing we can do to stop their pain but we can help them give their little boy the send off he deserves.”

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Last week Lee posted a video clip on social media of Jax in hospital on Sunday managing a smile despite being seriously ill with tubes attached to his face. The proud dad said at the time: “Absolute warrior of a boy…still managing a smile even though he’s going through all this. Breaks your heart but we are a very proud family. Thank you everyone for your support.”

Kathy previously wrote on the Go Fund Me: “I’m setting up this page and asking for help for Merry and Lee at this very hard time. For anyone who doesn’t know, their son Jax was born in February 2023 at 23 weeks with a very slim chance of survival but the little man kept fighting.

“Jax was taken to Southampton hospital on December 29 and has been there since. A few days ago they were told the news that no parent should ever be told…that he may not go home. The next few days are critical and they have been told to prepare for the worst.

“Jax will be one on February 21. We aren’t sure what will come but I am asking everyone - actually I’m begging - can we please raise money for Merry and Lee so they can give Jax the best birthday. Whatever is coming I want them to face this without worrying how they will afford things. Lee is self employed and needs to be with his son not worrying about paying bills. 

“No matter what the donation is, they are so grateful. Thank you to everyone. No parent should go through this.”

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