Parenthood is challenging enough at the best of times – so it’s hard to imagine being able to set up a successful business while your young son is fighting for his life after being born at just 25 weeks.
But that’s exactly what Jeremy and Nova Smith managed to do, despite the heartbreak of losing one baby and watching their desperately-ill tot battle for survival for almost two years on a life-support machine.
The hardworking Collingham couple have overcome incredible hurdles to develop their own tablet, which is already one of Amazon’s bestsellers less than three months after going on sale.
Nova said: “We are survivors. We are never going to give in.
“I used to say to my husband, ‘come on if we could make Lukas live against all the odds, when the doctors were saying turn the machine off, we can get this tablet off the ground.”
“When I look back I think how on earth did I cope, never mind set a company up?”
The former Allerton High pupil was heartbroken when she went into labour on a family holiday to Cyprus and lost one of the twins she was carrying at 22 weeks.
Three weeks later, little Lukas arrived weighing 700g. That then dropped to a staggering 480g because he was too poorly and too small to feed properly.
Nova said: “His legs were the size of my little finger, right up until about four months.
“But I never thought it was hopeless, I just thought ‘you’re going to live, just keep going’.”
Their son spent most of his first year on a life-support machine in a Cypriot hospital – so delicate the journey home to the UK would have killed him.
He then spent the next year attached to a life-support machine at Leeds General Infirmary, until finally, approaching his second birthday, he was able to go home. Now he is a healthy, happy five-year-old, attending St Joseph’s Primary School in Wetherby.
But it was while he was in hospital that Nova came up with the idea of creating their own cut-priced tablet.
The couple, who also have two daughters – Nellie, seven, and Celia, three – have also teamed up with Bliss, the charity supporting premature and special care babies, to give them a percentage of their profits.