A miracle baby born without a voice is now belting out hits as a swing singer.
When Ryan McLaughlin was born 12 weeks prematurely, weighing 2lbs 2oz, he fitted in his mother Janette’s palm and doctors told her he may not survive.
For his first few months, he did not make a sound – but 24 years later, he is belting out Sinatra and will be putting on his biggest show yet.
On Saturday, July 28 at Worthing Pavilion, he will perform Sinatra and more Big Swing Hits with his band, which he said had played for Prince Charles.
The wedding photographer and Worthing Lido worker said it was his ‘big shot’ at a singing career, having auditioned for The X Factor and The Voice.
His big break is all thanks to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, which cared for him after his birth on Valentine’s Day 1994.
He said: “I would love to have met the people who looked after me. I owe my life to them.”
Janette ended up in the Brighton hospital after her six-month check-up showed something was wrong. She had pre-eclampsia and liver condition HELLP syndrome, which put their lives at risk. Doctors put her on steroids to help Ryan’s lungs grow, and decided to deliver him four days later.
She praised the support of the baby unit staff, and expressed how ‘traumatic’ it was seeing him strapped up to wires and tubes.
She said: “His lungs were only half the size of my thumb, but now he has this incredibly powerful singing voice. It is a pure miracle.”
Ryan has given back to the baby unit with bucket collections at his concerts, including his first at Ferring Village Hall last year.
Inspired by his grandad Alan McKinna’s love of Frank Sinatra, Ryan discovered he could sing at a meditation retreat in Oxford in September 2015.
Janette said: “He loves to make his audience happy and leave with a smile on their face.”