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Baby boy born 1 week after abortion limit now ready to celebrate Christmas at home with his family

Little Nathan Alves Machado was born almost four months early at 25 weeks gestation, only a week after the UK abortion limit, weighing less than 1lb. Now, after 17 months in hospital receiving extensive care, the growing boy is heading home for the first time to celebrate Christmas with his family. 

When Nathan was born prematurely at 25 weeks, he was so tiny that he had to spend the first nine months of his life being fed by a tube and helped to breathe by a ventilator at Boston Children’s Hospital. Even after all this time in hospital though, he was still a long way from going home. He had to be transferred to Franciscan Children’s Hospital for another eight months to receive ongoing care. 

Because Nathan was born so prematurely, his parents, Suellen Alves Goncalves and Arthus Machado, received guidance and teaching from hospital staff so that they could learn to take care of their son at home.

Now, though, the 17-month-old is ready to celebrate Christmas at home and has reached the milestone of weighing 23 pounds. Staff at the hospital report that Nathan is a cheerful, active baby.

“We’re so appreciative of everyone at Franciscan Children’s”, Suellen said. “They took great care of our son and have become like family to us”.

Survival rate for extremely premature babies improving

A number of key studies in recent years have documented the improving outcomes for extremely premature babies. A 2004 Swedish study found that neonatal survival outcomes between 22 and 25 weeks gestation significantly improve when neonatal hospital staff take a proactive approach in the care of premature babies.

A 2008 study based on a neonatal intensive care unit in London also found that neonatal survival rates at 22 and 23 weeks gestation had improved. In 1981-85, no babies who were born at these gestational ages survived to discharge. However, by 1986-90, 19% did and this increased to 54% in the period 1996-2000.

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 “It is truly amazing how medical advances now mean that babies born extremely premature are surviving and thriving. What a wonderful Christmas present for Nathan and his family to be together at home this year”.

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.