Good News Blog

Premature Babies

Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008

Campaign Honors Infants’ Heroes

A nation-wide campaign in the United Kingdom, aims to honor the heroes of premature babies: doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, helpers, and others who toil to save the lives of these feather light special care babies.

The children’s charity Baby Lifeline is behind the campaign. Through their MUM (Maternity Unit Miracles) Awards they hope to honor the unsung heroes of premature babycare.

“Having a baby can be a worrying time, and if there are problems all parents want to know they are in the best hands.

When the odds of life or death are stacking up, the care and expertise on offer can make the world of difference.

That’s why charity Baby Lifeline wants to champion the work of dedicated professionals committed to helping those who don’t always get the best start in life.”
Judy Ledger, founder

The campaign has received unexpected support form a television star. Kate Ford, herself prematurely born at 4 lbs. and who starred in the popular TV serie Coronation Street, is backing the campaign.

“Giving birth is hard but it’s just as hard for midwives who work round the clock to give the best care possible.

You feel so vulnerable but a good midwife makes you feel safe.

The people who work in these units are unsung heroes and if anyone has had a positive experience giving birth, whether premature or not, this is their chance to say ‘thank you’ for all the fantastic work the staff do.”
Kate Ford

Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2008

Miracle Baby Turns 18

‘A Miracle Baby’ were the best words to describe little Cherie Maguire when she was born in 1990 weighing only 26ozs! Despite an amazing struggle to survive, the now very healthy Enniskillen girl has never looked back. She has just completed her A-levels at St Fanchea’s College and this week, celebrated her 18th birthday.

“Now is a time for reminiscing I suppose,” Cherie’s mother Geraldine told the ‘Herald’ this week.

“And back in those days, you would never have thought Cherie would make 18 at all because it was so touch and go.”

When Cherie, the daughter of Geraldine and Jimmy from Glenwood Gardens, was first delivered at the Jubilee Maternity Unit in Belfast, she fitted neatly into the palm of her mother’s hand while her father could easily slip his wedding ring onto her leg.

It was an anxious and stressful time for Jimmy and Geraldine, and Cherie’s older sister Melissa. The family had lost a baby girl also delivered at 29 weeks, nine months previously, and when problems developed with this pregnancy, consultants at the Erne took the decision to transfer Geraldine to the Royal Maternity Unit. However, when doctors there examined Geraldine they realised Cherie would have to be delivered almost immediately if she was going to have any hope of survival, but with no incubators available at the Royal, Geraldine was transferred to the Jubilee Maternity Unit. The following morning she underwent a caesarean operation and Cherie was brought into the world at 10am weighing 1lb 10ozs.

“She was so tiny and looked so vulnerable and surrounded by so much hi-tech equipment it was hard to believe she had any chance of survival,” Jimmy said at the time.

Geraldine didn’t see her baby until that afternoon and her initial reaction was that she didn’t look like a baby at all, more like a foetus surrounded by a mass of tubes and monitors. She noted that it was unusual for Cherie’s eyes to be open for such a premature baby and they were a striking shade of dark blue, looking huge against the rest of her tiny body. At that initial stage, staff in the unit were not optimistic and held little hope, and Geraldine herself experienced a mix of feelings, both pleasure that Cherie was alive and fear for the future.

“I didn’t want to get too close to her because I thought if she died it wouldn’t hurt so much then.”

Cherie however, was determined to live and became a real little fighter. She overcame feeding difficulties which saw her weight drop to 19ozs, a bowel infection, breathing difficulties and a heart murmur. Gradually, Cherie started to put on weight and three months later was allowed to return home. Having heard the stories from her family and having seen the newspaper clippings marking her survival story, Cherie, an award winning Irish dancer, knows looking back now, that she was, as the headlines suggested, a miracle child.

“I don’t know how I survived to be honest,” she remarked.

Awaiting the results of her A-levels, she is currently working in Flo’s Restaurant in Enniskillen and hopes come September to study for a HND in Health and Social Care at the South West College and progress from there, to study for a degree in nursing at university. And, despite being naturally small, Cherie is now one young, fit and healthy adult.

“I’m very small, just 5ft so I’m very tiny. I have size three feet and wear small clothes.”

Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

Miracle Baby Beats Survival Odds

Doctors say premature babies have a low rate of survival, but here in Bakersfield, ABC23 found one baby born three months early who’s beating the odds.

Breanne Smith, 19, was overjoyed when she found out she was pregnant with a baby boy. That joy soon turned to fear when she was rushed to the hospital three months early for an emergency C-section.

“It’s really unbelievable how small he is … Like a kitten … tiny,” said Smith.

Branson Smith was born weighing 1 pound 4 ounces in August. Smith said he wasn’t due until December.

She said she developed eclampsia, a condition that creates seizures during pregnancy.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, eclampsia follows preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, weight gain, and protein in the urine. The site suggests it is difficult to predict which women with preeclampsia will go on to have seizures. Women with very high blood pressure, headaches, vision changes, or abnormal blood tests have severe preeclampsia and are at high risk for seizures.

Doctors said the survival rate of a baby being born three and a half months premature is only 10 percent.

Smith said all she can do is have hope and take it day by day.

Baby Branson is almost three months old now and weighs three-and-a-half pounds.

Smith said if everything continues to go as well as it has, Branson could be headed home on what would have been his birthday.

Monday, Oct. 29, 2007

Pre-mature babies reunited at place of birth

Eugene – Hundreds of special little children and their parents gathered for a party at Sacred Heart Medical Center Saturday.

From twin babies to toddlers, these children came dressed in their Halloween finest. But it wasn’t just a spooky celebration, it was a reunion!

These kids and their families are celebrating the lives of babies that were born pre-maturely at Sacred Heart’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. Officials say it’s a way of celebrating the babies growing up healthy and strong.

“It helps them see other babies and how well other babies are doing and it helps parents to meet other parents to connect with each other and get support,” says registered nurse Barbara Johnson.

This is the 30-th annual reunion. The Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit was established in 1977.

Thursday, Jul. 5, 2007

Baby Born 17 Weeks Premature Continues To Grow

To many people she is known as ‘The Miracle Baby’ because when she was born 17 weeks premature she was smaller than a soda can.

Now, as Jessica Kartalija reports, little Ryleigh McCormick has beaten the odds and is now growing into a healthy little girl.

Five months after her birth, Ryleigh went back to the hospital where she was born for a routine eye exam.

Doctors at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center weighed Ryleigh in at eight pounds, something they called a miracle in and of itself.

“When she came out, we were thinking that usually babies under 500 grams don’t make it. So we were all kind of thinking she wasn’t going to survive,” said nurse Kelly Reed from GBMC’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.

Reed described caring for Ryleigh saying she helped her with, “breathing, giving her blood products, [and] fluids.” Reed added, “You know, you get to the point where you have to teach them how to eat.”

At birth, Ryleigh’s entire arm was the length of her father’s finger. Her body easily fit inside some of the holiday stockings that were hanging in the McCormicks’ home.

Ryleigh’s parents said their daughter is an inspiration not only for them but also for anyone fighting tough odds.

“It’s been a long journey and she has been my inspiration,” said proud dad Anthony McCormick. “If she can go through what she went through for the past five months, I can accomplish anything.”

“She is a fighter,” said mom Angela McCormick. “It just lets me know that anything in the world is not possible unless you fight for it.”

After birth, Ryleigh McCormick was at GBMC for 115 days.

She is now living a happy and healthy life back at home with her parents and four sisters.

Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2007

Miracle 1lb baby “doing well” 10 months on

A baby born after just 23 weeks is currently “doing well” after spending the first 10 months of his existence battling for his life.

Baby Kaven not only had to endure the trials which come with being born 17 weeks early – he also had to undergo over 50 blood transfusions to keep him alive after he contracted necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating organism, at just five days old.

His frame was so frail that within days of being born, the 1lb baby boy had suffered broken ribs, caused by the effort of breathing, and two broken legs after health specialists had attempted to change his nappy.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, proud mum Victoria Simmons admitted that she and partner Lawrence Gainey were incredibly frightened for their little son.

“We had him baptised before the operation, as the doctors didn’t think he would be coming back. We just had to sit and pray that he would hang on.”

Now 10-months-old, Kaven – which means “handsome” in Gaelic – is a much healthier 15lbs and although he will require physiotherapy until he is at least five, Victoria is confident that her son will continue to improve.

“He is so tiny that some people think he is new-born. But he’s doing fantastically well and we are so thrilled with his progress,” she said.

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007

Doing well: the 1lb 8oz baby saved by Viagra

A desperately-ill baby was given Viagra by doctors in a last attempt to save his life.

Lewis Goodfellow weighed only 1lb 8oz when he was born 16 weeks premature with seriously underdeveloped lungs.

The male impotence drug worked by opening some of the small blood vessels in the lungs to help carry oxygen around the body in his blood.

Now, after five months in hospital, Lewis is at home with his parents Jade Goodfellow and John Barclay, weighing 10lb 7oz and making excellent progress.

“He really is a miracle baby and we decided we would never give up hope until he had taken his last breath,” said Jade, 17, who lives with Mr Barclay, a lifeguard, in Walker, Newcastle.

“At one point we were told we might have to make a decision about stopping treatment because he was so poorly and we even started to plan his funeral, but everyone prayed so much for him and he pulled through.

“All the nurses, doctors and consultants were fantastic, and when they tried Viagra it was very much a last resort but it worked.

“When Lewis came home it was wonderful. We were able to finally be a proper family and take him out in the pram.”

Lewis was one of the first babies to be given the drug, also called Sildenafil, at the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s special baby care unit in Newcastle.

Alan Fenton, consultant neonatologist at the infirmary, said: “Sildenafil is a fairly new form of treatment which we’ve been using on the unit for around a year.

“It has been used successfully in full-term babies but it is unclear whether it works as well in very premature babies. So far we’ve used it in around six premature babies.” Lewis was due on December 1, but Jade unexpectedly went into labour at just 24 weeks, and her baby was born on August 16.

When Lewis was three weeks old, he needed open heart surgery to correct a faulty valve, but doctors became increasingly worried about his lungs. Although Lewis was being given maximum supplies of oxygen, his lungs were still struggling to get it into his blood supply.

At this point they tried Viagra through a drip and Lewis started to improve. He was still not out of the woods, however, and in November he had laser surgery on his eyes.

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

Premature births: A miraculous survival story

Amillia Sonja Taylor was born after 22 weeks, weighing less than a bag of sugar. Doctors gave her little chance of life. But now she has been allowed home.

Her tiny transparent feet, covered in gelatinous skin, look like those of some aquatic creature. Her chest, festooned with wires and tubes, covers a heart that pumps up to 80 times a minute. She is the world’s most premature baby known to have survived and, after four months in hospital, she is going home.

Born at 21 weeks and six days gestation, barely half the 37 to 40 weeks normal babies spend in the womb, Amillia Sonja Taylor weighed less than 10 ounces, less than half a bag of sugar. She measured just over nine inches long.

Her doctors at the Baptist Children Hospital in Florida did not hold out much hope. “We weren’t too optimistic but she proved us all wrong. She is truly a miracle baby. We didn’t even know what a normal blood pressure is for a baby this small,” William Smalling, a neonatologist, said.

Premature births as extreme as this carry high risks. Amillia has experienced respiratory problems, a very mild brain haemorrhage and some digestive problems, but none of the health concerns are expected to pose long-term problems, her doctors said. During two months in an incubator, she had plastic surgery to repair an ear torn during delivery.

“We can deal with lungs and things like that but, of course, the brain is the most important,” said Paul Fassbach, a neonatalogist. “But her prognosis is excellent.”

Today, Amillia has grown to a healthy 4lbs, still barely half the weight of a newborn baby, and is 25 inches long. Conceived by IVF, she is the first child of Sonja and Eddie Taylor, from Homestead, Florida, and already the centre of their world. “I am still in amazement. I wanted her to have a chance and I knew in my heart that she was going to make it,” Mrs Taylor, 37, said. “It was hard to imagine she was going to get this far but now she is beginning to look like a real baby. Even though she is only 4lbs now she looks plump to me.”

Premature babies enter the world with immature organs and skin, under-developed lungs and fledgling immune systems. Their first few months are a roller-coaster – doing well one minute, their lives in the balance the next – yet survival rates have improved dramatically. Ten years ago, three-quarters of babies born at 25 weeks died. Now less than half do so.

Amillia’s story is testament to the achievements of modern medicine. But it is also extremely rare. Even today 99 per cent of babies born before 23 weeks gestation die. Less than one in five of those born before 24 weeks survive and of those two thirds have moderate or severe disabilities.

Medical advance has thus created an ethical dilemma. Is everything being done that should be for these babies or is too much being done because it is technologically possible? Progress in neonatal medicine has increased the options for doctors and parents but, because of the risks of death or disability, has made it increasingly difficult for them to know the best thing to do.

There is a worldwide boom in premature babies. The US Institute of Medicine warned in a report last year that premature births were soaring, by almost a third in the last 25 years, putting increasing pressure on health and education services. More than a quarter of babies born before 35 weeks will require help in school and a quarter of those born before 25 weeks have severe long-term problems.

The finding was backed by Danish scientists who reported a 22 per cent rise in premature babies between 1995 and 2004. In the UK, specialists say a similar increase is likely to be under way, where there are about 45,000 premature births a year.

Older mothers and increasing obesity are among the factors thought to be driving the trend. The growth of IVF, with its high rate of twin births which have an increased risk of being born prematurely, is also a contributor.

Greatest concern surrounds the growing number of extremely premature babies, of 23 and 24 weeks gestation, who are at highest risk of suffering severe long-term impairment. At birth, every feature of their existence presents a challenge.

Visit any neonatal intensive care unit and you can see the struggle they face to survive. The doctors operate at the limits of medicine, and their newborn patients cling to the edge of life. The babies have lost the protection of the womb, and with warmth, oxygen and nutrients, the doctors try to substitute for its protective embrace.

Premature babies lack the subcutaneous fat that develops in the last month of pregnancy and gives full-term babies the fat, glossy look of the newborn. Their skin hangs loose in wrinkles and folds, as their lives hang by a thread.

Nurses drip expressed breast milk through tiny tubes and check monitors attached to scrawny chests. Alarms beep constantly, as traces record heart rate, breathing, oxygen level and blood pressure, while ventilator pipes gently vibrate. The consultant ward round is dominated by discussion of “creatinine levels”, “neuronal migration” and “immunoacids”.

That any of these babies survive at all is a miracle of modern medicine. That half of those born at 25 weeks grow up and go to primary school without any significant disability, as revealed by research, is a triumph.

But for the other half it is a different story. They and their parents face a heart-rending struggle in the face of disabilities that can include cerebral palsy, severe cognitive impairment, blindness and deafness.

Some specialists point out that while the attrition rate at these gestational ages – below 25 weeks – is very high, it is lower than it was and improving all the time. A decade ago, babies born at 28 weeks had similar outcomes to those now born at 24 weeks. That demonstrates medical advance and there is no reason why it should not continue.

Others say that though the successes are impressive, the price of failure, for the parent of a child who grows up profoundly disabled, is too great.

A spokeswoman for Bliss, the premature baby research charity, said yesterday: “Amillia’s is an amazing story and an astounding success. But she is in a minority. Successes like this rarely ever happen and there are many cases where things don’t work out so well. We hope Amillia will have a happy and healthy life. But we need to avoid giving the impression that this is the norm.”

Last November, the Nuffield Council of Bioethics ventured into the ethical minefield by publishing guidelines on when to provide intensive care to extremely premature babies, those born below 26 weeks. “Doctors have gained the capacity to prolong the life of newborn babies and the question is whether they should always do so,” said Professor Margot Brazier, who chaired the working party that produced the report.

The council’s recommendation was that babies born before 22 weeks, such as Amillia, should only be given intensive care as part of a research study. For those born between 25 and 23 weeks, it proposed a sliding scale with a diminishing expectation that intensive care should routinely be given as gestational age fell, unless the parents strongly objected.

The report was wrongly presented as proposing a blanket ban on saving extremely premature babies. Each case still had to be assessed on its merits, the authors said. One scenario presented was that of a 45-year-old woman who had no children, a last chance at pregnancy and who wanted to try to save her baby however slim the chance. One specialist, an author of the report, said that in that circumstance he would do whatever he could to help her.

Defending the need for guidelines, Professor Brazier said: “Natural instincts are to save all babies even if the baby’s chances of survival are low. However, we don’t think it is always right to put a baby through the stress and pain of invasive treatment if the baby is unlikely to get any better and death is inevitable.”

Amillia is one of the lucky ones. Yet even for her, the future remains uncertain. She will continue receiving oxygen at home and her breathing will be monitored. Her parents perhaps more anxiously than most, will watch to see whether she passes her developmental milestones of walking and learning to communicate. But at four months, and doing well, she is already a beacon of hope to parents of premature babies across the globe.

The Stanley family: ‘They were tiny, and very ill’

Expecting twins, Victoria Stanley was in just the 23rd week of her pregnancy when she went into labour. “There was no warning, it had been a normal pregnancy. We had had IVF but no one drummed it into us that there was a higher risk of prematurity with twins.”

It was 15 August 2005, and her husband, Martin, rushed her to Ashford Hospital, the closest maternity unit to their home in Canterbury where the babies were born in four hours.

Daisy weighed 1lb 7ozs and Archie 1lb 12ozs when they were born at 23 weeks 6 days gestation. “They were absolutely tiny. I wasn’t allowed to hold them because they were very ill. They were whisked away and put on ventilators,” she said.

Both needed intensive care but there were no intensive care cots at Ashford so Daisy was transferred to London and Archie to Cambridge, their mother and father commuting between them.

“I was in complete shock. I was warned while I was in labour that their chances of surviving were slim and the chances of their doing so without disabilities were incredibly slim. In the first hours and days all you think about is: will they survive? You keep your fingers crossed and hope somehow things will work themselves out.”

After two days the call they had been dreading came. They were in London with Daisy when the medical team in Cambridge rang to say Archie was dying.

“He had a massive bleed in his lungs and in his brain. There was no chance at all. At least we had a day with him before he died which was a blessing.”

Daisy was still severely ill. After blood transfusions and a heart operation her parents were told she had a two to five per cent chance of survival. She finally went home in January 2006.

“I think every single day how unlucky we were – and how incredibly lucky we are.”

Monday, Jan. 15, 2007

A miracle child having a dream week in Hawaii

Tadd Fujikawa stood 50 feet away from the cup on the other side of the 11th green, staring at a birdie putt that not even the best players in the world expect to make.

Then again, the kid is used to defying the odds.

He was born 3 1/2 months premature and given only a 50 percent chance to live. In a sport ruled by high-priced swing gurus and golf academies, the only person resembling a coach is his mother. He looks out of place at the Sony Open not so much because of his age – he turned 16 on Monday – but the short, choppy strides from his 5-foot-1 frame.

The putt dropped into the heart of the cup and Fujikawa lunged forward and thrust his fist, sending some 1,500 people into another frenzy as they watched the pint-sized sophomore pull off another shocker Saturday in the Sony Open.

First, he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour with a birdie-par-eagle finish Friday for a 4-under 66. If that wasn’t enough, he got within three shots of the lead midway through the third round on his way to another 66.

He was four shots behind the leaders, who were not quite at the turn.

“Nothing in this game surprises me anymore,” said defending champion David Toms, who played in the group ahead of Fujikawa and waited until his shots were over to cope with crowd noise. “He’s having a good time.”

Fujikawa is a foot shorter and two years younger than Michelle Wie, the Hawaii teen who has been trying the last four years to get a tee time on the weekend at Waialae.

He made the hometown crowd forget about her on a sunny, breezy afternoon along the southeast shores of Oahu.

Fujikawa stayed up past midnight to watch highlights of him making the cut, then must have decided that wasn’t enough. Starting with a pitching wedge that stopped 4 feet from the flag at No. 5, he ran off five birdies in eight holes and was on the leaderboard.

His mother, Lori, stayed some 250 yards behind and couldn’t believe what she was watching.

But her only son has been full of surprises since he was born 3 1/2 months early, so small he fit into his grandfather’s palm.

“I don’t know why he came so early,” she said. “I was sleeping when all the contractions began, and there was no reason for me to go into labor. I guess he wanted to come out and see the world.”

He was in the hospital for three months, and doctors warned her it was 50-50 that he would survive. His first surgery was to reconnect his intestines, which caused more fears for his survival. They also told her a mental disability was possible.

“After his first year, we thought we were in the clear,” she said.

Fujikawa took up judo, then started whacking golf balls on the practice range at age 8. He got serious four years later when he took his first lesson from a PGA teaching pro, but lately he has been on his own, his mother at his side.

“He goes to school in the morning, then the golf course until dark,” she said. “Then homework and dinner. He loves it.”

It was hard to suppress a smile when Nick Faldo, the analyst for the Golf Channel, told him his game was good enough for the PGA Tour. That’s been the goal, and this week has been a delicious taste of it.

“Let’s hear it for Hawaii’s own … Tadd Fujikawa,” the announcer said behind the 18th green as the kid strolled up the fairway. He hit a wedge 10 feet below the cup for another roar, and the groan was almost as loud when he missed.

Despite his size, Fujikawa generates great club speed and hits his driver about 285 yards. And he showed plenty of savvy for only his second professional event (he qualified for the U.S. Open last summer at Winged Foot).

Behind two coconuts trees that split apart like a wishbone, he thought about hitting a fade between the trees.

“I took the other route and went around the trees,” he said, hitting a hard draw with a 9-iron that hopped out of the rough and landed on the fringe about 10 feet away for birdie.

He is not expecting to win, and even a 66 in the third round didn’t change his mind. He didn’t have any specific goals when he showed up Monday and played a pro-am round with Steve Stricker, and that hasn’t changed. “I’m just trying to have fun, and to do my very best on every shot,” he said.

The only regret Saturday was not seeing his name on the leaderboard along the back nine of Waialae.

“I saw the leaderboards,” he said. “I guess I was looking at the wrong time.”

Monday, Aug. 7, 2006

Mum’s triplets miracle

A WOMAN told she would never have kids after treatment for cancer has had TRIPLETS.

Rebecca Hillary, 23, feared the disease had returned when she got tummy pains — until doctors told her she was pregnant.

First she had daughter Kayleigh-Beth in March last year — and then, amazingly, fell pregnant again five months later and had triplets Hermione, Scott and Melody.

Rebecca said: “I still can’t believe it! It’s pretty hectic but I just love being a mum.”

She was just 19 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease.

After gruelling bouts of radiotherapy and chemotherapy she was finally told she was in remission.

But doctors said the treatment meant she would probably never conceive.

Rebecca recalls: “I had always wanted to have children, so I was pretty devastated.

“Then, when I was getting better and had just started work again in a hospital, I was having bad stomach pains and went to casualty.

“I was preparing myself for the worst, thinking the cancer had come back — but after tests they said I was pregnant.

“I told them I couldn’t possibly be and the doctor laughed. He said it was definite. I was in shock.”

Rebecca tells how she got an even bigger shock when she fell pregnant with the triplets. When she went for a scan, she was asked if she had conceived through IVF.

The wondermum revealed: “I said, ‘No, don’t tell me there’s two in there’. The nurse smiled and said, ‘No, not two — three!’ It’s a good job I was lying down.”

The triplets were born by Caesarean section nearly seven weeks early.

Thursday, Aug. 3, 2006

Our sugar bag baby is a little miracle

A ‘MIRACLE’ baby, whose parents feared he might not survive, will be coming home soon.

Tiny Jamie Farren had stopped growing in the womb and he could have died if his mother hadn’t had an emergency Caesarean.

And when he was born on 4 July he only weighed a little more than a bag of sugar.

But now he’s putting on weight and medics at Royal Alexandra in Paisley are so pleased with his progress that he’ll be home within weeks. His mum Catherine, 37, from Port Glasgow, said: “It’s a miracle — Jamie’s umbilical cord wasn’t working and he wasn’t getting the nutrition he needed to grow and he wouldn’t have survived if he hadn’t been delivered then.” The mum-of-three, who has a heart condition, was violently sick throughout her pregnancy.

And she was getting scans every two days to check on his progress at the Queen Mother’s in Glasgow.

When Jamie was born, Catherine and husband Eric had to wait a week before they could hold their son.

She said: “It’s heartbreaking looking at Jamie in an incubator.

“He’s still on oxygen and is being fed through a tube, but he’s a wee fighter.”

Proud grandparents Jim and Catherine, who live in Port Glasgow’s South Road, are thrilled.

Jim, 67, said: “It’s brilliant, especially as he’s named after me. We’re over the moon. He’s definitely a fighter — he’s like his old grandad. I had a lung operation because of asbestosis and I’m still going strong.”

The family, who now live in Johnstone, are planning a celebration with Jamie’s three-year-old twin sisters, Kiara and Jenna.

Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2006

For preemie girl’s tiny heart, a huge life-saving miracle

Texas Children’s shows creative, less invasive approach can fix even the smallest aortas

Kaylin Baker’s heart, no larger than a quarter, was soon to fail.

Born two months premature, and weighing just 2 pounds, 8 ounces, Kaylin had two defects in her aorta, the body’s largest artery, which carries blood from the heart to the body.

Two narrowings, one in a valve leading from the heart to the aorta and the other farther down the line, were forcing the heart to work overtime to deliver blood throughout her tiny body. Without surgery, her doctors said, the heart soon would pump itself to death.

Then, said first-time parents Nancy and Chris Baker of Austin, a miracle happened.

Instead of cutting her chest open — a difficult procedure from which Kaylin might never recover — physicians at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital devised a daring, almost certainly never-before-tried procedure in a baby so small.

They would snake a tube, or catheter, through her neck and down an artery the size of a spaghetti noodle into her heart. From there, the doctors said, they could fix Kaylin’s heart and narrowed aorta with a tiny balloon and a small, cylindrical cage, or stent.

Their plan worked. After Wednesday’s four-hour procedure, Kaylin’s tiny heart showed promising signs of recovery Thursday.

“It has been an extremely difficult month for us,” Nancy Baker said. “We have gone from such extremes of emotion, and we had prepared to never see our child alive again. Then, to have the operation go so well, with no complications, we can’t even explain it in words. We are just in awe as to what transpired in there. There’s not even a cut on my baby, and they fixed her heart.”

Trend extends to children

The procedure highlights a dramatic transformation in the medical treatment of hearts. In recent decades, cardiologists, who do not perform “open” surgery but rather approach problems by using catheters and other minimally invasive tools, have come to treat a majority of blocked arteries and failing hearts.

That trend gradually has been extended to children, whose smaller arteries make it more difficult to navigate inside the body with a catheter. Now, as the doctors as Texas Children’s have shown, the technique can be used in the smallest of babies.

“There has certainly been a trend around the world and in our center, as well, to try and do more and more procedures in a less invasive way,” said Dr. Henri Justino, an interventional cardiologist who led Kaylin’s operation.

Less invasive procedures typically mean minimal scarring, and more importantly for Kaylin, a shorter recovery time.

About 1,000 cardiac catheterizations are performed at Texas Children’s in a year, but only two or three are done in such small infants, Justino said. The real novelty of Kaylin’s case was in combining two intricate procedures into a single operation.

Through a sesame-seed-sized prick in Kaylin’s neck, the doctors inserted a tiny balloon in the valve leading from her heart to the aorta. The valve mediates the flow of blood into the aorta, which descends from the heart through the chest and abdomen, delivering blood to most of the body. By blowing up the balloon inside the valve, doctors opened the critically narrowed valve to a healthy position.

After removing the balloon, the doctors sought to address the second narrowing, farther down her aorta. For this task they used an adult stent, about one-tenth of an inch wide. The metal cage, which expands to restore blood vessels to their normal size, normally is used to open the small arteries on the surface of the heart.

But for Kaylin, the stent’s small size was perfect to expand the narrowed aorta just below her chest.

Perhaps in a few months, or maybe not until she is a teenager, Kaylin will need further surgery, probably to implant an artificial valve. By that time, however, doctors think her heart and body will be strong enough to withstand the rigor.

“This child will definitely need open-heart surgery eventually. It’s just a matter of what’s the best timing,” said Dr. Charles Fraser Jr., chief of cardiovascular surgery at Texas Children’s, who consulted with the Bakers.

Murmur detected at birth

The surgery capped a hectic month for the couple. Born June 21, Kaylin unexpectedly came 28 weeks into Nancy Baker’s pregnancy — the couple and their doctor had no reason to expect a premature child. They had not even taken childbirth classes.

After a heart murmur was discovered during routine testing following Kaylin’s birth, the Austin doctors decided the baby probably should undergo a catheterization procedure. However, they planned to enter her arteries through the groin, the normal area for such procedures in adults. Because Kaylin’s arteries were so small there, doctors feared she might lose a leg.

Then, as the operation was being scheduled in Austin last week, Chris and Nancy Baker reconsidered their options.

“My wife and I didn’t feel like we had done our due diligence, on who out there in the world has done something like this on a baby this small. The answer was nobody.”

Eventually, the Bakers and their Austin doctors consulted with Justino, who had more experience with catheterization in small children, and everyone agreed to transfer Kaylin to Houston. On Saturday, an ambulance transported Kaylin and her mom to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and they flew on a small Texas Children’s plane to Houston.

Chris Baker described the surgery as a “true miracle and act of God.” And although Kaylin will have a struggle on her hands, her doctors are optimistic about her chances after she survived a harrowing first month of life.

“Of all the hurdles she is going to have to face in her life, this is probably the biggest one,” Justino said Thursday.

Kaylin’s birth already has altered the couple’s lifestyle. Chris Baker will remain a real estate agent, but Nancy Baker, a kindergarten teacher, has submitted her resignation.

“I’ll be staying home to take care of my baby,” she said.

Wednesday, May. 31, 2006

Miracle Baby Turns Strangers Into Family

An infant who was born three months early in an unexpected place has been making tremendous strides by transforming total strangers into a family.

Nevaeh, heaven spelled backwards, was just 1 1/2 pounds when she was born to Salina Newman.

Newman thought she had miscarried into a toilet when she called 9-1-1, but rescue crews found her baby still in the amniotic sac and still alive.

“She’s had a pretty exciting life to only be so little,” Newman said.

Three months after her birth, Neveah was surprisingly strong enough to leave the hospital, but didn’t leave with her birth mother.

Newman decided the best thing she could do for her daughter was to give her up.

“It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” Newman said. “The most adult decision I’ve ever made.”

Robin and Rob Layton became the proud adoptive parents of Samantha Neveah who is now a 4 1/2 pound preemie.

“We believe that God put her here, we met up for a reason and it was meant to be so we needed to take on the challenge and step up to the plate,” Robin said.

“We knew right away as soon as we saw her we fell in love with her,” Rob said.

The Laytons didn’t just bond with their new little girl but they also opened their hearts to her birth mother.

“Just to get to see her grow up and stuff,” Newman said.

Two mothers now have a tie that will keep them connected for a lifetime.

“This is what was supposed to happen so, no regrets,” Newman said.

“It’s amazing that she’s made it and she’s so strong and she’s so beautiful,” Rob said.

Her parents, all of them, consider her a blessing for what she’s brought to their lives and it’s just the beginning for the new extended family.

“I don’t know, it just seems like everything was meant to happen,” Newman said.

Samantha Nevaeh was visited constantly by the Littleton police and paramedics who saved her while she was in the hospital. They call her their honorary goddaughter and plan to follow her through her life.

She still has to take special vitamins, but Samantha Nevaeh had no health problems.

Monday, Apr. 24, 2006

Premature babies reunited with ICU staff

It was a family reunion of sorts at Bailey Square Park in Central Austin.

Hundreds of families gathered for Seton Medical Center’s 31st neonatal reunion. It’s a chance for families of premature babies to say thanks to the doctors and nurses who many say are the reason their children are alive today.

Ava, Faith and Claire Price weighed less than two pounds each when they were born in March 2005.

“They were all very sick. They all had the typical preemie issues – heart issues, breathing issues,” mother Jackie Price said.

Those issues are no longer a problem after some time in Seton’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“They fall in love with the children too and provide such loving support for all the babies in the NICU, and they’re just extremely talented medical professionals,” Jackie said.

Thirty-one years ago, 23 children and their families met for the first neonatal reunion at Seton Medical Center. This year, more than 700 turned out.

“I recognize the parents’ faces and then I figure out who the children are and then they tell us how old they are and some of them are so beautiful. They all bring back special memories … Babies will continue to be born premature and sick and need our services, so it really does feel good to see them healthy and grown and happy and running around,” Dr. Susan Landers said.

The neonatal intensive care unit has grown from one doctor in 1972 to a staff of 12 doctors and 90 nurses. About 700 premature babies are admitted each year.

Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2006

Million dollar miracle: Leesburg 2-year-old survives premature birth

A 5-percent chance of survival.

That’s what doctors told Katelyn Hall’s parents, Ashley and Michael, when she was delivered by emergency cesarean section Nov. 16, 2003, at 9:25 a.m.

Katelyn had been in Ashley Hall’s womb for only 25 weeks, making the baby nearly three months premature.

Weighing 15.5 ounces and measuring just over 11 inches long, Katelyn ranked as one of the smallest babies ever born at Georgetown University Hospital.

Now, the 2-year-old redhead with vibrant blue eyes bounces around her Leesburg home with no clue of how long the odds were against her at birth.

The only thing Katelyn knows is that she’s alive and, for the most part, healthy. She used to take 10 different medicines; now she is down to five or six.

Katelyn is not walking or talking yet, and at 20 pounds looks younger than her age, but her parents recognize that Katelyn’s journey is of undocumented proportions.

“We don’t compare her to anyone but herself,” Ashley said.

“We don’t treat her like she has any problems at all,” Michael said.

Katelyn’s journey

When Ashley Hall became pregnant, she didn’t know she suffers from a rare blood-clotting disorder that only appears when the body is under some type of stress, like pregnancy.

“We knew around the 16-week mark in the pregnancy that something was wrong because [Katelyn] was already measuring small,” she said. “We found out later that the blood flow between the placenta and her was insufficient because I had blood clots.”

The blood-clotting disorder caused preeclampsia, which developed into hemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels and a low platelet count, also known as HELLP syndrome. Most women who develop the disorder don’t do so until the 32nd to 34th week of pregnancy, but Ashley Hall was rushed to an area hospital with cramps in week 25. On the night of Nov. 15, doctors decided she needed to be transported to Georgetown for emergency delivery to save her life.

Katelyn spent the first two months of her life on a ventilator and underwent heart surgery to close a valve when she was a week old.

She went through multiple blood and platelet transfusions throughout her first two months and suffered several infections.

Katelyn lived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Georgetown for five months before she was well enough to go home with her parents to Leesburg.

“When she was in the NICU, it was always two steps forward, five steps back,” Ashley said. “It would go from, ‘oh, she’s doing great,’ to ‘you better get in here because we don’t know if she’s going to make it.’

“It’s hard to go home from the hospital after you’ve had a baby and not bring the baby home, especially thinking you may never bring her home.”

Katelyn underwent eye surgery and was hooked up to oxygen tubes until July 2005. She has chronic lung disease. She is missing her left cerebellum, which controls muscle coordination on the left side of her body, but every day uses her left hand more and more.

When doctors released Katelyn from the hospital, the Halls’ home became a makeshift hospital because the infant needed nursing care 16 hours a day until April 2005.

“The first two years, we didn’t take her out [of the house] except to go to the doctors, so she was here, in this house, pretty much for two years,” Michael said. “Someone had to be here 24 hours a day.”

Now, she visits occupational, physical and speech therapists four days a week, but otherwise leads a normal life.

Katelyn loves to go to the park and swimming pool. She enjoys swinging and being thrown into the air, but prefers being around people more than anything.

“If you put her in a room with a bunch of people and a bunch of toys, she’s more interested in the people,” Ashley said.

Katelyn is also very aware and smart. She can easily follow simple instructions from her parents.

“I think she understands more than she can communicate back,” Ashley said.

Challenges for Katelyn’s parents

Michael and Ashley Hall have found one of the toughest parts of being parents to a premature baby is balancing their work schedules with caring for Katelyn.

Michael is employed by the county’s Sheriff’s Office, while Ashley co-owns a consulting business.

They are lucky to have good insurance, which has covered many of the more than $1 million in expenses. They call Katelyn their “million dollar miracle.”

Another obstacle for them was a lack of knowledge about the different support groups available for parents of premature babies.

“There’s more support for the women than there is for the men,” Michael said. “There was nothing. I didn’t have any friends out here who could relate to anything we were going through.”

He has made himself available to other fathers experiencing this situation. The Halls encourage parents of premature babies to find support groups as early as possible and to ask the doctors a lot of questions.

“There were times we would see something with Katelyn that we thought was wrong, but we wouldn’t say anything,” Michael said. “Then, two or three days later, it would come out that she was sick or something was wrong.

“You have to be your baby’s best advocate.”

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006

Tiny miracle goes home with Garibaldi mum

AFTER a five week battle for his life, the baby of Garibaldi food poisoning victim Kelly Owen is finally home.

Baby Damon became a second generation victim of the food poisoning a decade after his mum ate E coli bacteria-infected Garibaldi mettwurst.

Born eight weeks’ premature in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Damon has fought hard just to breathe on his own and put on weight.

Ms Owen and fiance Michael Evans yesterday told The Advertiser their little boy had astounded doctors with his speedy recovery after being born with a weight of 1320g.

“It’s just so exciting to have him home with us,” said Ms Owen, who took Damon to the family’s Andrews Farm home on Saturday. “I can wake at night and feed him now.

“He’s finally and completely our little boy.

“The doctors and nurses were shocked by how well he has done – we’ve basically been able to bring him home three weeks earlier than expected.”

Ms Owen, now 18, has been in and out of hospital since the 1995 outbreak when she was just seven years old.

The epidemic – which killed one child and made 23 seriously ill – also made Ms Owen’s pregnancy a day-to-day battle to find the right dose of medicine to stabilise her failing kidneys and high blood pressure, while not harming her baby.

A midwife will conduct home visits and regular weigh-ins to monitor his progress “but otherwise he’s perfectly healthy”, Ms Owen said.

Despite weighing a healthier 2140g, his size 00000 clothing is still swimming on Damon’s little body.

Indeed, in five weeks Damon has come a very long way.

“All the tubes and feeding lines are gone. He’s doing it all on his own,” Ms Owen said.

Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006

Miracle baby celebrates her 10th birthday

A miracle baby born just 1lb 12oz has just celebrated her 10th birthday.

When Melaine MacKenzie from Oban was born her parents were told she wouldn’t live.

At four weeks she underwent major heart surgery, battled a blood infection and had laser eye surgery to save her sight.

Seeing her now, just after her 10th birthday, you would never guess she spent the first two and a half years of her life on oxygen and a feeding tube.

Although she still wears a hearing aid and must attend Yorkhill for regular check-ups Melaine is very much like any other ten year old. Thanks, says her mum, to the staff at Yorkhill.

Modern medicine has made the treating of premature babies routine for doctors today but ten years ago that wasn’t the case, making Melaine’s survival even more of a miracle tale.

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005

Tiny campaigners help premature birth charity

The world’s tiniest charity campaigners are hoping their fight for life will inspire efforts to boost research into the causes of premature births.

Edmund and Aubrey Holdcroft, from Ramsgate in Kent, were born almost 15 weeks early on December 2 last year, weighing less than 2lb each.

Their father, Martin Holdcroft, decided to keep family and friends up to date during their “terrifying” time in special care by creating a weblog – or blog – charting their progress.

Now thousands of people around the world are regularly checking up on the twins, fondly known by their weblog followers as Viking and King of the Elves.

Martin Holdcroft

Martin Holdcroft described the highs and lows of the twins’ battle, including the moment they were finally allowed to leave hospital after months of specialist care.

Mother Julie also features in the regular family updates.

The twins began campaigning for funding to prevent other babies from being born too soon when they joined charity Action Medical Research earlier this year.

Martin Holdcroft said they had been amazed by the response to the weblog, and the babies now had fans all over the world .

“Initially we started the blog so that our family and friends could keep track of their progress and it seems that their popularity has just grown and grown.

“Although they are fine now, the twins were born very early and their time in special care was terrifying.

“Things could have turned out so differently, but we were very fortunate,” he said.

Martin Holdcroft said he was “astounded” to find out that there was so little money spent on finding ways to stop babies from being born prematurely.

“Hundreds of millions are spent each year on special care, yet only a few million on preventing babies from needing it. It seems crazy to me.”

Charity

The family are supporting the Action Medical Research Touching Tiny Lives Campaign.

Andy Proctor from the charity said they were very grateful for the support from Edmund and Aubrey.

The charity is raising over £3m as part of the Touching Tiny Lives Campaign to help find answers to premature birth and pregnancy complications.

It said that in the UK just £10m – £15 for every baby born – was spent each year on research to combat the problems that lead to 3,000 babies dying within their first year of life.

The twins’ weblog can be seen at www.action.org.uk/twins

Friday, Dec. 23, 2005

Family celebrates Christmas miracle

Her head was so tiny, it could fit on top of her mother’s hands. The baby’s body was so underdeveloped, her skin appeared translucent.

Attached to an array of life-support tubes and monitors, Gabriela Guzman-Morales wondered if what doctors had prepared her for was true – that her prematurely delivered baby, born at 1 pound, 13 ounces, had only a slim chance of survival.

The baby was born on Christmas Day 2004, and her family hoped she would make it to see the next.

“It was like a gift, but we still didn’t know if she would make it. Her lungs were very premature,” Guzman-Morales said in Spanish.

Today those lungs are the same ones that scream at her mother when a spoonful of mushed vegetables are headed her way. Approaching her first birthday Sunday, Emily Delgado-Guzman is her family’s Christmas miracle.

Though she was only 15 weeks along in her pregnancy, Guzman-Morales’ water broke on Oct. 23, 2004. She was rushed to the Sarasota County Health Department’s Women’s Care Center, where she remained bed-ridden for two months.

Doctors did not want her to move, for fear that she would lose the baby.

“In a case like this where the water breaks so early on, many providers will tell the mothers to terminate the pregnancy,” said Dr. Christopher Swain, who treated Guzman-Morales at the health center. “But we believe in giving a baby any chance possible to live. The whole family was so determined to see this baby live.”

Doctors performed daily ultrasounds to check the status of the baby in the womb. Though doctors could tell her the gender of the baby from the ultrasound, Guzman-Morales did not want to know.

“I didn’t want to get too attached,” she said.

When the baby was finally born 25 weeks into the pregnancy, Guzman-Morales and her husband Raul Delgado were still reluctant to name the child. They wanted to make sure she survived her first week.

One day, as Guzman-Morales walked through the hallways of the women’s center, she stopped to rest in one of the waiting rooms. After flipping through the pages of a magazine, she saw an advertisement for a porcelain baby doll.

She ripped out the page, and showed it to her husband. The porcelain baby reminded her of her own, and now that her baby had lived 15 days she would name her Emily, just like the doll.

“We’re a small family,” said Guzman-Morales, who lives with her husband and 19-year old daughter Lesly in Sarasota. “This was one of the most difficult times for us.”

Even after Emily was released from the women’s center in February, she still had to use breathing tubes attached to an oxygen tank, and her family constantly had to check to make sure the little girl was breathing.

Now, her mother says, Emily is “una traviesa” – “a playful one.” She is always crawling and reaching for things.

“Emily is a baby who knows what she wants,” Guzman-Morales said. “She likes fruit, but hates vegetables.”

This Christmas, the family plans to celebrate Emily’s first birthday and first Christmas with a cake. No Christmas trees, though.

“She’s at that age where she’s always reaching for things – she would probably bring it down,” said mom.

Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005

Miracle baby safe at home

A JONESBORO woman breathed a huge sigh of relief when her baby daughter won her battle for life.

Susan Quigley, who now lives in Dundee with her partner Walter Clelland could only look on as their daughter Katie defied the odds to win her battle for life.

Katie was born 12 weeks premature at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital; her weight was a mere 700 grammes or one lb eight ounces.

“It’s a huge relief to have her home,” said Susan.

“It’s a even bigger relief that she’s putting on weight.”

She explained how Katie spent the first seven months of her life in a neo natal unit after being delivered via an emergency caesarean.

Katie was not expected to survive and suffered further setbacks when she developed lung infections and a bowel infection.

Then she contracted a heart murmur.

She has spent half her life on a ventilator, which was necessary given the weak state of her lungs.

Susan told The Dundee Evening Telegraph,”One of the nurses said to me she has been knocking on heaven’s door on more than one occasion, she keeps knocking but they are not letting her in.

“I kept saying she is going to make it. I knew she had not come all this way, fought through the pregnancy, to not make it in the end.

“I knew that whatever life threw at Katie, she was eventually going to come home sometime.”

Susan thanked all her family and friends from the Newry and Mourne area who gave her massive support and encouragement over the last few months.

Monday, Nov. 14, 2005

Biblical name is favourite for Abigail’s miracle son

STAB victim Abigail Witchalls and her husband Benoit are planning to call their newborn son Joshua – which means salvation.

Joshua is top of the Catholic couple’s list of favourite names for the 5lb 6oz baby born last Friday.

It is a Hebrew name, meaning “the Lord is salvation”, and Joshua was a Book of the Old Testament.

The Witchalls, who have a two-year-old son Joseph, will confirm their choice in the next few days.

A source said: “The whisper is that Joshua is to be the name. It’s a great name, especially with its religious connotations. And it fits very nicely alongside Joseph.”

Abigail, 26, was paralysed from the waist down after a knife attack seven months ago. She has slowly regained some movement and spoke of her joy after giving birth at St George’s Hospital, South London, where she was first treated after the attack.

With husband Benoit, 27, and Joseph by her side, she said: “I’ve found great strength and comfort carrying this child over the past few months and it is such a blessing and a joy to finally see him face to face.”

Excited Joseph shouted, “Baby come out!” when he saw his new brother. Emotional Benoit was full of praise for hospital staff. He said: “Once again the health care professionals here at St George’s have been so attentive and generous to us.”

He added: “We are really looking forward to an exciting homecoming once more, except now with another beautiful son and brother for Joseph.”

Abigail and Benoit’s family are “almost lost for words” to describe the joy over the baby who born early at 35 weeks. [Preventing premature birth]

The source added: “At last there is something wonderful to celebrate. The baby is beautiful. The family is almost lost for words.

“Benoit’s sister, a nun in a convent in France, is visiting the family to help look after Joseph. So there’s lots of family about at the moment.”

Abigail is likely to be discharged and return home to Little Bookham, Surrey, “in the next few days”. She did not require a caesarean section and has successfully begun breastfeeding.

After the attack, doctors feared that Abigail would not live. She had the last rites read to her by a priest. Even after her recovery, medics did not believe the baby would survive.

Prime suspect for the attack is Richard Cazaly, 23, who later killed himself with a drugs overdose.

A spokeswoman for the family said it had taken them three weeks to decide on Joseph’s name, adding: “The baby has not been named yet.”

Monday, Nov. 7, 2005

The baby that saved my life

CANCER sufferer Hayley Newbery gazes tenderly at the miracle baby daughter she owes her life to – after finally being allowed to take her home.

Hayley’s disease was spotted only because she fell ill while pregnant.

Daughter Lucy was delivered early at 29 weeks so her mum, 25, could start treatment.

And after the six-week infant was discharged from hospital last week, Hayley beamed: “She’s so special – she really is my miracle baby.

“She saved my life. Without her I would still not have known I have cancer.”

Hayley begins a three-month course of wonder drug Avastin tomorrow after the Daily Mirror last month exclusively revealed her battle to become the first NHS patient to receive it.

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The mum-of-three was diagnosed with bowel cancer when 17 weeks pregnant, which later spread to her liver. But she rejected the chance of an abortion that would have let her start treatment right away. Hayley, of Melbourn, Herts, said: “There was never any question of that in my mind. By simply being there Lucy gave me a chance to live, so I had to give her the same chance.”

Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge decided a caesarean at 30 weeks would be best for mum and baby. It was brought forward by a week after Hayley’s mum Vicky died and she felt she could not handle the wait.

Hayley added: “I had waited for nearly 12 weeks and if Lucy had passed away I couldn’t have lived with the guilt. I sobbed from the moment I was on the operating table until I heard her cry. Then I knew she’d be all right.” But doctors found Hayley’s cancer could not be operated on and warned she would die within two years without Avastin, which shrinks tumours.

It had not yet been passed for NHS use and private treatment would have cost £48,000. But just over two weeks ago NHS chiefs relented.

Hayley has already been fitted with a wig because the drug will make her hair fall out. She said: “I don’t want people to be able to tell – I don’t want them to look at me with pity. I thought about wearing a scarf but I looked awful.”

Lucy, just 3lbs at birth but now a healthier 5lbs, was allowed home on Thursday to join her father Christian, sister Megan, four, and 22-month-old brother James.

Hayley added: “I’m so happy now we’re all together.

“I feel like all my Christmases have come at once.”

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005

March of Dimes: Miracle Baby

Bailey Strickland is a 3-foot-tall prizefighter. Her opponent? Her own body.

Bailey, 3, was born prematurely at 24 weeks’ gestation, which is the first week of viability, said her mother, Dorothy. She weighed 1 pound and 10 ounces and was 12 inches long.

To get an idea of just how small Bailey was, Mrs. Strickland said she was the length of two one-dollar bills and the width of one. Bailey’s legs and arms were the size of her mother’s pinky finger. Place your thumb and middle finger together and Bailey’s little head could fit inside, Mrs. Strickland said.

Bailey was placed on a ventilator within five minutes of her birth. Several machines and medicines helped her fight to live and, at 1 month, she had heart surgery.

When Bailey was 6 weeks old, the doctors told her parents they had given her every treatment available. The rest was up to the tiny infant and to God, Mrs. Strickland said.

“You really learn to live day to day,” she said. “Your quality of life was better then because you knew what was important. God brings you to a place where you are so centered and so focused. You have to trust and believe because you have to have hope.”

Mrs. Strickland and her husband, Talmadge, lived in Charlotte with friends while Bailey was in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“We would sit in the hospital 12 hours a day,” she said. “They would call and say, ‘She is going to die today,’ and she would live. We would go to the hospital, leave to eat, and that was it.”

Little Bailey was 2 months old before Mrs. Strickland was allowed to hold her. Until then, she would reach through the holes in the Isolette to touch her child.

During the 118 uncertain days that Bailey was in the hospital, it helped to know that family, friends and strangers were praying.

“I believe in the power of prayer,” she said. “You can’t look at my child and not believe that there is something greater and greater than you.”

She also believes in the work of the March of Dimes. Since the organization helped to find a cure for polio in 1948, it has led efforts to reduce premature birth by supporting research and by educating the public and health care providers.

One of the medicines given to Bailey to help with breathing problems was surfactant. Surfactant is a naturally occurring detergent-like substance produced by the lungs. It keeps tiny air sacs in the lungs from collapsing after exhaling. Babies who are born prematurely often have breathing problems, due in part to a lack of surfactant.

The March of Dimes played a leading role in developing surfactant therapy for premature babies.

Bailey does have bronchopulmonary dysplasia — chronic lung disease — but none of the usual health problems associated with prematurity. Mrs. Strickland said her daughter did not have brain hemorrhaging or cerebral palsy. She is not blind or deaf.

Bailey loves to play outside in her sandbox and eat pizza. Her favorite TV characters are Big Bird from Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. Her favorite book is the one her mother reads to her about Winnie the Pooh.

When people look at her energetic daughter, it’s easy for them to realize the role March of Dimes plays in saving the lives of premature babies, Mrs. Strickland said, but the research offers benefits to all babies.

“Her survival is a miracle … but the miracle is the gift of every life. It’s the gift of every child,” she said.

“Most people don’t know that they are affected by the March of Dimes. Every woman knows to take folic acid during pregnancy and that is because of the March of Dimes. Every woman would like to have a chance to decrease their chance of having a baby with birth defects.”

Saturday, Sep. 24, 2005

Giving hugs to premature babies

One in ten babies born in Britain are premature – many are so tiny that it can be some time before their parent are able to take them out of their incubators and cuddle them.

A new design by an art graduate hopes to change this by creating the ‘humanising incubator’.

Instead of parents only being able to get access to their newborn just through the portholes of an incubator, Sally Halls’ design would allow parents to pick up their baby and get important bonding sessions with it in the early stages.

“It brings them out of the incubator and back into the parent’s arms, whilst still maintaining all medical need,” said Sally.

Design

Neonatal experts stress the design is still in the very early stages, but say they are interested in principle.

Sally, who won an award with her design from the Royal College of Arts, said the new incubator aimed to reduce the isolation of premature babies.

“I wanted to do something like this after seeing images in the media of sick babies with no human contact.

“I wanted to see if there was anything that could be done to give them contact in a more human way.

“As a new parent the first thing you want to do is to really hold your child, but even if you can, you worry that you are interfering with their recovery.”

She stressed that her product was not designed to replace incubators in hospitals, but to enhance them and to allow the baby to be handled earlier.

In Sally’s new incubator, the baby would sit on a heated mattress that would then fold around it creating a closed, sealed environment when held by the parent.

The mattress inside would also be specially designed to prevent bed sores and make it more comfortable for the baby who spends most of its time in there.

There would also be an inflatable ring around the baby, allowing them to feel more secure and to mimic the conditions in the womb and a humidifier would pump warm air around inside.

Safety

Sally said everything possible would be done to increase access to the baby, while still maintaining their safety.

“In order to enable full interaction with the mother, the baby’s head has been left uncovered. As the mother was the host parent for the child, any antibodies will be shared by the mother and child. This means that the baby will have a natural defence to anything the mother may carry.

“The baby can see, hear and smell the mother, and be reassured through all its sense, ” she said.

Sally said she had received tremendous support for her design from medical staff and parents and said she was hoping to get incubator manufacturers interested in taking on her design for production.

Dr Jane Hawdon, consultant neonatologist at University College London Hospital, said she had seen the prototype and said that while it was still in the early stages that it had potential.

“I thought it was excellent. She took the principles from her visit to our neonatal unit and she applied them well. I think in principal it would be very welcome.”

She said neonatal wards, like her own, always encouraged parents to have as much contact as possible with their babies as this had been show to improve recovery.

“Almost all neonatal units try to do all they can to bring babies out for cuddles and this is a very good way of doing this.

“There is a lot of work showing how the babies are handled and cared for enhances their outcome.”

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2005

Hurricane yields a miracle

John Paul Rogers, born one month early by Caesarian section at Bridgeport Hospital, came all the way from New Orleans to enter the world and escape the devastation Hurricane Katrina wreaked on his parents’ hometown.

John Paul was delivered Wednesday — believed to be the first birth to the roughly 600 people evacuated to Connecticut from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

The boy’s parents were displaced from their New Orleans home Aug. 28 and flew north to stay with relatives in Shelton.

“John means the graciousness of God — that’s why we called him John. God has been gracious to us,” said the Rev. Miner Rogers, John Paul’s father. He said his wife, Shawn, endured many complications during her pregnancy.

That’s part of the reason why the family fled New Orleans as soon as they did, nearly two days before levees broke and flooded the city.

“I had a very bad feeling about this storm,” Rogers said of Hurricane Katrina. “I knew it was going to be bad. I knew we had to get out of there.”

The Rogers family had made arrangements to have their baby delivered by Caesarian section in New Orleans, but the mass evacuation of the Crescent City abruptly changed that plan.

They found a willing team of doctors at Bridgeport Hospital to take on their case, and they’re glad they did.

“They’ve been wonderful, phenomenal,” said Shawn Rogers, who held her baby Friday morning while doctors who performed the surgery visited her.

“I feel good,” she said, smiling despite the surgery she’d been through Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Kenneth Thomas and Dr. Robert Stiller were among the physicians tending to her.

“What happened in New Orleans [with the hurricane] was a tragedy, and everyone wanted to find ways to help,” said Stiller, who suggested that Bridgeport Hospital taking on the high-risk pregnancy was a good way to help someone from the stricken city.

John Paul is the couple’s fourth child. Also in the family are son Keland, 18; daughter Lindsey, 12; and son Corban, 3.

The next step for the Rogers family is to find work in Connecticut, since their jobs in New Orleans were wiped out by the hurricane.

Miner Rogers is a full-time Baptist minister, and Shawn Rogers is a mortgage originator.

“We probably could go back to our house in New Orleans, but there are no jobs,” Shawn Rogers said.

As for the congregation of 10,000 at Miner Rogers’ church, Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral, “we’re scattered all over the country. We’ve evacuated as far west as Arizona and as far east as Connecticut,” he said.

The family is staying with relatives Orlando and Kim Soto in Shelton. Orlando Soto is a sergeant with the Stratford Police Department.

“We’re trying to deal with what we need to do if we don’t go back to New Orleans,” Miner Rogers said.

The Rogers family isn’t the only one in that predicament.

Elsewhere in the Naugatuck Valley, a partnership of the Valley Council of Health and Human Service Organizations, the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Needs and Opportunities project announced a plan Friday to assist Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated to the area.

The task force has identified eight families with 15 individuals being housed in the Valley, and is seeking to identify others that it may be unaware of. TEAM Inc. has offered to assign a case worker to work with the evacuees and serve as their advocate to identify specific needs they may have, and connect them with government and nongovernment resources. Help may include housing and household items, employment, financial assistance and health-care services.

“With the assistance of the Valley Chapter of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, our case worker will meet with each of the families and individuals next week and hopefully by the end of the week we will ensure that they have been connected with FEMA, the state Department of Social Services and other state agencies and that we have identified the specific needs of each of them,” said Richard Knoll, executive director of TEAM, in a statement.

Thursday, Sep. 1, 2005

Premature miracle

Aiden McKerracher was born on January 10 weighing only one pound, three ounces. He was premature by three months.
“They said not to expect him to cry,
Nicole McKerracher said. “But he came out screaming!

Ric McKerracher felt that was a sign his son was going to be a fighter. “He was one of the smallest babies they had even seen,
he says. “He was only 550 grams. They said that a 500-gram baby was viable. He just made it by half a chocolate bar.

The baby was five months in the neonatal care unit at Kingston General Hospital before he was allowed to come home. He now weighs eight pounds, seven ounces, and despite still requiring oxygen, he is alive and well.
“It’s amazing,
Ric says.
The McKerrachers still have to be very careful the baby does not get an infection. They sanitize their hands before handling the infant and only allow close family to hold him. “Even a cold would hospitalize him,
Nicole says.
While the baby was in Kingston in the isolette, they were allowed to just put a hand in but could not pick him up. Ric and Nicole took turns travelling to Kingston every day for visits.
“We couldn’t hold him for a month,
Nicole says. “That was hard. His skin was so translucent you could see right through it. He was very fragile.

Ric says the newborn was no bigger than his hand. They have photographs of the baby after he was born, at only 12 inches long. They took a print of his hand and foot and have it mounted in a frame on the wall.
“He was only 27 weeks in gestation,
adds Nicole, “but that was equivalent to 24 weeks.

The first few months were intense as the baby had to undergo surgery three times including laser surgery on his eyes. The baby needed five blood transfusions, with blood taken from his father.
“We almost lost him twice,
Nicole says. “It was very stressful.

She adds that physically he is doing really well now. He may need glasses at one year of age because he is nearsighted, and he is still getting hearing tests. His hand and eye coordination is good and he is very attentive. But they won’t know until he starts school if he has any learning disabilities.
Despite his size, Aiden already has a big attitude. “He didn’t like the nurses taking blood out of his foot and he would kick at them,
Ric smiles. “He’s a real fighter.

Both parents are very impressed at the technology available today for such infants and also at the level of care and caring from medical staff. They said they were glad for the healthcare system in Canada, with costs that would have been for a million-dollar baby in the United States. However, some parents were sent to Buffalo because of lack of space.
Aiden’s older brother Noah, two, is adjusting well to his new family addition. He was allowed to visit him in the hospital and even hold his hand and give him toys. The McKerrachers feel fortunate to have a supportive family as well, to pick up Noah from daycare while they are on the road.
“Premature babies are tougher in life,
Nicole says. “Everything happens for a reason. It is there to teach us something.

City mum talks of Walsgrave miracle baby

A MOTHER who defied diabetes and a heart attack to give birth to a healthy daughter has thanked Walsgrave Hospital for her miracle baby.

Toni Howe, of Wyken, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of ten. Then on her wedding day five years ago the 30-year-old suffered a heart attack.

After spending her first week of married life in hospital, doctors first told Toni to wait at least a year before trying for a baby with husband Mark.

But then another doctor told her the devastating news a problem with her ovaries meant she was unlikely ever to conceive.

Despite the hurdles in front of her, Toni and Mark never gave up hope and, with the help of experts from Walsgrave, Toni gave birth to Saskia in March.

Speaking of her experience, Toni said she now juggled motherhood with her four injections of insulin a day.

“Having Saskia’s everything I had hoped it would be and more, she is such a happy baby,” she said.

Toni found support from doctors and nurses at Walsgrave’s preconception clinic, where she found out the problems diabetics were faced with on becoming pregnant.

Dr Aresh Anwar, a consultant in diabetes, said Toni’s story was an example to all diabetic women who wanted to have a child.

“She worked extremely hard to keep her diabetes under control during pregnancy,” Dr Anwar added.

“It’s fabulous to see her so happy with her new baby.”

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005

3% life chance baby celebrates 1st year

Laughter filled the hallway near the neonatal intensive care unit as the girl who was given a three percent chance of survival dabbled her hands in the frosting of her first birthday cake.

The pink frosting on the cakes said it all “Happy Birthday Miracle Baby Cora Rose.”

A year after her four month premature birth, doctors and nurses who helped Cora Rose Leone survive now helped her celebrate her first birthday in the hallway leading to the unit where Cora spent her first four months of life.

Her mother, grandmother and aunt brought her back to visit the people who cared for her.

The nearly 13-pound girl was the life of her party as doctors and nurses held her and remembered how far she had come.

Cora, the second smallest baby to survive at Loma Linda University Medical Center, was 14.5 ounces and 10.5 inches long at birth.

“She is amazing,” said her mother, Shawnda Rae Guptill-Leone. “We are very lucky.”

Aside from her small size, she is the picture of health and her mother spoke with pride about the baby’s attempts to walk and first words.

But tears of sadness mixed with tears of joy.

Cora’s twin brother, Dominic, only lived for two months.

“It’s a bittersweet day,” Guptill-Leone said. “If you could take a moment today, think of my son.”

Wendy Guptill, Cora’s grandmother, recalled how Dominic’s nurse, Annette Gross, cared for him and later, Cora.

“She is going to be our lifelong friend,” she said.

Both Gross and Annette Patel, her main nurse, and Dr. Elmar Sakala, who delivered Cora held the girl in the tiny pink dress during the visit.

“It is really exciting to know she is doing so well,” said Gross. “She is such as amazing baby.”

Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005

Miracle baby reaches birthday

Although her birth certificate has her listed as Cora Rose Leone, friends and family of the 1-year-old girl simply refer to her as a “miracle.”

Born four months premature at a weight of just under a pound, Cora arrived at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital on Monday with her mother, Shawnda Leone, to celebrate her first birthday and show appreciation to the hospital’s doctors and nurses.

Wearing a tiny pink bow in her small crop of hair and a matching pink dress, Cora took turns being cradled and coddled by those in attendance, while her mother gushed about her little girl’s progress.

“She can’t quite walk yet, but she is able to scoot herself around and do that combat crawl thing,’ said Leone of Riverside. “And she can say basic words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada.’ It is just amazing.’

The day’s festivities were somewhat bittersweet for Leone, she admitted, referring to Cora’s twin brother, Dominic, who passed away two months after his birth.

“It’s a day to rejoice, a day to be happy,’ she said. “But it’s also a tough day for me.’

Cora was born weighing 14.5 ounces, with a visibly beating heart. She spent the first four months of her life in the hospital, developing much the same way she would have had she not been premature.

Dr. Elmar Sakala, the family’s obstetrician, said he has yet to see a baby born that early and be as physically and mentally capable as Leone’s now 12-pound, 8-ounce ball of joy.

“It has been touch-and-go since the beginning, but Cora has definitely exceeded all expectations,’ Sakala said. “She is really, truly a miracle baby.’

Saturday, Jul. 30, 2005

Babycam TV helps bed-bound mums – and premature babies

A hospital camera network which lets bed-bound mothers see live pictures of their premature babies is helping save lives, according to medical staff.

Glasgow’s Princess Royal Maternity is the first Scottish hospital to use a “babycam” to re-unite mums and babies.

During trials, women said being able to see their babies helped them express milk – a lifeline to vulnerable babies.

Consultant Dr Lilley said the babycam was a “great discovery” for mothers and babies who had to be separated.

The Princes Royal has officially unveiled the babycam following a two-month pilot.

Rachel Tainsh was one of the women who benefited from the two-way camera.

Her son Jake was born 29 weeks into her pregnancy and was immediately moved to the Princess Royal’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit.

Lifeline

Mrs Tainsh was confined to bed two floors below Jake and said the babycam was a lifeline during their separation.

“Babycam helped me to maintain a connection with Jake,” she said.

“Even though I couldn’t hold or touch him, I could see what was happening to him, which helped to relieve the distress of being apart, especially in the first few days.

“Being able to see Jake helped me to express breast milk as well, which is one of the most important things mums can do.”

Consultant paediatrician Dr Chris Lilley said: “We all know nowadays how important breastfeeding is, but with premature babies it really can make all the difference.

“The emotional reassurance babycam gives mums is vital and can really help their recovery.

“But the great discovery we’ve made is that it can also be a huge medical help to vulnerable babies.”

The technology was recently made available to the Princess Royal and its main use was to transmit ultrasound images to specialist cardiologist colleagues at Yorkhill.

However, staff found they could use the hardware to transmit images of their baby to the mother’s bedside via the hospital’s intranet system, using ports situated at both beds.

Nearly all maternity units have a telemedicine system, worth around £25,000.

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