Select Page

Baby born at 24 weeks is the smallest ever to survive at Nebraska hospital

A baby boy from Nebraska, weighing less than a pound when he was born at 24 weeks and two days, has been discharged after 116 days in hospital.

John McClinton, nicknamed “Buddy” by his parents, was born weighing only 14.1 ounces. His parents had had one miscarriage prior to Buddy’s birth and were anxious when he stopped growing in the womb at around 20 weeks gestation and his mother’s blood pressure rapidly increased.

Buddy’s mum, Ashley, said “What went through my mind was Lord, I cannot lose another child. I cannot bury another baby’”.

Buddy was born with a hole in his heart, which doctors were able to sew shut, and he is expected to live a healthy life.

Staff at the hospital announced that Buddy was “the smallest baby born at the hospital to survive”.

Buddy was able to return home on oxygen in December

Ashley described the day of his discharge as “bittersweet”, saying “We have formed such close relationships with all of the people that took care of him for [these] 116 days. So it was a joyful day. But also, you know, a lot of tears, too”.

“We have dreamed of being parents for so long and we are so grateful. Buddy is doing so good!” Ashley added. “He’s very opinionated and most content being held, which we love. We are enjoying every minute with him”.

Ashley expressed her hope that her family’s story will help couples who have experienced miscarriages or preterm births to know they are not alone.

“I’ve had people from all over the country reach out who have micro preemies in the NICU who are sharing their stories with us”, she said. “We’re blessed to hear from them and honoured to cheer them on”.

Medical advancements have improved survival rates for premature babies significantly

At 24 weeks and two days, Buddy was born just over the UK abortion limit of 24 weeks. Originally set at 28 weeks, the abortion limit was lowered in 1990 to 24 weeks gestation because, given our then medical and technological abilities, this was the gestational age at which an unborn baby was considered viable. Since then, however, medical technology has advanced considerably and the survival rates for unborn babies who are born before the 24-week abortion limit have improved dramatically, and babies born below 24 weeks gestation are increasingly able to survive.

A study in 2022 found almost four out of five babies born prematurely between 22 and 28 weeks gestation survive to discharge from the hospital. It found that from 2013 to 2018, with infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation, “survival to discharge occurred in 78.3% and was significantly improved compared with a historical rate of 76.0% among infants born in 2008-2012”.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Buddy is a living example of how advanced our medical technology now is, that a baby born weighing just a pound can now survive and be discharged from hospital. Legislators in the UK should pay attention to these babies and change our abortion law, which continues to permit abortion up to 24 weeks gestation”.

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.