HAVING seen him beat the odds again to reach another milestone, Justin Tobler says his son Kody's survival isn't just a blessing, but a miracle.
"I live day-to-day with Kody, but I'm probably the proudest father to ever live," Mr Tobler said.
The Warilla battler turned five on Sunday, enjoying a celebration surrounded by family and friends at the Lakeview Hotel Motel last Friday night.
He'll also start school in a few weeks' time.
Kody was born in Wollongong Hospital on January 27, 2008, five weeks premature and with part of his small intestine on the outside of his body.
The condition, gastroschisis, limited blood flow to the organ, forcing doctors to remove all but 27cm of it.
Kody's large intestine was also very small and he had no ileocecal valve - the valve that should join the two intestines.
He spent his first 18 months at the Sydney Children's Hospital before being transferred to Wollongong. Originally not expected to live more than 24 hours, he has defied the odds.
Aside from one recent mishap, Mr Tobler said Kody has been doing better in recent months.
After 17 weeks out of hospital, on December 30 Kody broke his femur in a fall. Kody has osteoporosis from all the medication he has taken.
"Last year we were in and out of the hospital a lot," Mr Tobler said.
"The prognosis at the moment is still touch-and-go, day-by-day.
"But they're really happy with the liver results; he's at end stage liver failure, but hasn't been sick.
"I'm really proud of him at the moment; he made so many milestones last year.
"We haven't had a problem with his gut in about 20, 21 weeks. He's a bit more self-sufficient.
"He's happy, funny, laughing, being an average kid; goes to the beach and parks."
Kody will also begin attending Warilla North Public School in a few weeks' time.
"He'll be going there for one hour a day to start, and then see what happens," Mr Tobler said.
"He's really looking forward to going to school. He calls himself the big boy now."
Mr Tobler has two children from a previous relationship - Kyla, 18, and Jessica, 15.
In addition to Kody, he and former partner Kristy Howard are parents to Destiny, three.
Ms Howard also hosted her own party for her son on Sunday and said she was "blown out" by his progress.
"He's a little soldier," she said.
"He's so tough, he's my little hero.
"I don't understand how he goes through what he does, but he doesn't complain or whinge.
"[Turning five] is huge for us, we're so excited. Him starting school too; that's another thing he wasn't supposed to do."