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Baby born at 22 weeks defies the odds to survive

A premature baby girl born at 22 weeks and two days, weighing just 1lb 2oz (510g), is among the youngest surviving premature babies in the world.

Lura Lauer gave birth to twins, Lyric Elaine and Cali Rose, after going into premature labour on 15 July, four months before her November 16 due date.

Doctors gave the girls just a 10% chance of survival at their birth. Tragically, Cali Rose passed away two days after her birth.

Their surviving daughter Lyric, now four-weeks-old, is her mother’s “little fighter”.

Telling her story to the Sun, Lura said: “She’s such a little fighter and the nurses and doctors have been taking great care of her.

“They’ve been very vigilant and proactive, everything that’s popped up they’ve caught quickly. The doctor’s exact words were, ‘She is amazing us every day.’ She is truly a miracle.”

‘It felt like a nightmare’

Lura found out she was pregnant in March and learned she was having twins during her first appointment with her gynaecologist.

The yoga teacher revealed she started to experience contractions around 20 weeks pregnant but thought they were Braxton Hicks – ‘false labour’ pains that are common in pregnancy. 

Lura’s doctor agreed that the contractions were probably Braxton Hicks when she had a check-up on 14 July and was told she could continue her yoga practice.

However, after teaching a class that evening, her contractions worsened to the point that she couldn’t sleep and she spent the night crying in pain. 

Following a phone call with doctors the next day, Lura was told to visit her local hospital immediately. 

Lura went straight to Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, North Carolina, with her partner, Ricky, where they learned she was already 3 centimetres dilated. She was given medicine to stop the contractions before speaking with a neonatal doctor. 

“He told us the hospital we were at do not resuscitate if you give birth to a baby at less than 24 weeks,” she recalled.

“He said if I was to give birth that day, I would have to say goodbye because they’re not viable at that age.

“They said they didn’t have the capability to care for babies that young. It felt like a nightmare.”

The couple decided to transfer to the nearby Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte because it had a more advanced neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which would also give their babies a chance at life.

At Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Lura went into labour and less than an hour later, at 7:53pm, Lyric Elaine was born ‘with one push.’

Cali Rose arrived the same way three minutes later, weighing an ounce less than her sister, at 1lb 1oz (482g). Both were only 11 inches long.

“I heard both of them cry and they both were breathing, which was a good sign, but they were immediately rushed out of the room, before I got to hold them,” Lura said.

Sadly, two days after giving birth, a doctor told Lura that Cali had two brain haemorrhages that were both grade 4 – the most severe – and was declining.

She died that same day.

Lura said: “Even though she was only here for a couple of days, she made such a big impact on our lives.”

Immense peace

Lyric had a grade 1 brain haemorrhage, but started showing improvement after her sister passed away and has had few complications aside from some necessary procedures.

Two and a half weeks after her birth, Lura was able to hold Lyric for the first time.

Recalling the emotional moment, she said an “immense joy and peace washed over [her]” when they put Lyric in her arms.  

She said: “I was holding my baby girl and she was holding me. I prayed for this moment. I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to let her go. But the moment came and went, and soon after she was placed back into her incubator…

“She’s still got a long fight ahead of her. Every day brings new challenges for her and she is bravely taking on each one…”

’22 weekers: Surviving and thriving’

Lura told the Sun since posting pictures of her daughter on social media mothers from all over the world, from Istanbul to Canada, have reached out with stories of 22 weekers surviving and thriving. 

“It just baffles me that so many hospitals don’t resuscitate at that age, because it is absolutely possible for a baby to survive.

“I think Lyric is an example that — even when the doctors are unsure — hope, faith, determination, and love are such powerful energies. I believe that’s what’s keeping our daughter alive,” she added. 

“This is why I wanted to share her story. Lyric is an inspiration to me and to so many other people. 

“She is a beacon of hope in hopeless times.”

New guidance

The survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting the creation of new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today it is four out of ten, according to the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

Once a baby passes 22 weeks, the chances of survival increase week-by-week due to technical advances, better healthcare planning and the increased use of steroids.

The increased survival rates have prompted calls to review the current law in order to help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies.

Time for change

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said: “This is something that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008.

“There is a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 24 weeks whilst in another room a doctor could perform an abortion which would end the life of a baby at the same age. Surely this contradiction needs to end.

“Independent polling from Savanta ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

“This change in guidance adds further evidence to the need for Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb. 

“It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.