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Baby girl born weighing just 1lb 5oz goes home after nine months in NICU

A baby girl who was born weighing just 1lb 5oz is going home for the first time after spending nine months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Having already had three children before baby Margo, Savanna Buller thought she knew what to expect in pregnancy. However, about midway through her pregnancy, things took a dramatic turn for the worse as Savanna developed pre-eclampsia, which causes dangerously high blood pressure.

This meant that baby Margo had to be delivered early at just 25 weeks. She was born at a hospital where her mother also works as a labour and delivery nurse but, because she was so tiny and frail, was soon transferred to the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for the highest level of NICU care available in Louisiana.

One of the paediatricians there, Dr Jessica Zagory, said “She started to do poorly about three weeks into her NICU stay [at Lake Charles], and the neonatologist there suspected that she had necrotizing enterocolitis and so sent Margo to Children’s Hospital New Orleans”.

Margo’s parents were told several times that she might not survive

Initially, less invasive treatments were tried but when Margo did not respond well to these, doctors tried other surgeries.

“[Premature babies like Margo] just don’t have a great barrier in their intestinal system, and so the bacteria that lives in there can proliferate and basically go across that membrane that usually protects us from the things that we eat and digest”, Dr Zagory explained.

Savanna and her husband Daniel took turns caring for Margo while in the hospital.

“Margo has defied the odds, not once, not twice. They’ve sat us down close to five times to tell us, ‘It doesn’t look good. You know, Margo might not pull through this, but we’re gonna keep on fighting with her’”, her mother said. “And every time … she’s surprised us”.

Now, after nine months in the NICU, Margo is finally able to go home to live with her parents and three siblings.

“I keep thinking to myself, I must be dreaming!” Savanna said. “It has been such a long journey and we are so excited to share Margo with her siblings. We look forward to the summer and spending some very-much-needed time as [a] family of six!”.

“One of the best parts about Margo’s story is that it has been such a success for us so far and it’s been a true team effort”, Dr Zagory said. “I’m hopeful that she’ll have a very normal outcome, which is not always the case for a lot of our babies who go through this condition”.

Medical staff at the hospital threw a celebration for the family, commemorating her journey and recovery.

“Even the doctors are like, ‘This is a miracle baby’”, Savanna said. “And I can agree, even as a nurse just looking medically, I’m like, ‘This doesn’t make sense. This is definitely something that is so remarkable that she’s still here with us’, and to see all of the hurdles and obstacles she’s overcome, I’m just amazed”.

Over 30 years since the time limit for abortion was last updated

At 25 weeks, Margo was born just over the current UK abortion limit, and below the limit originally permitted by the Abortion Act of 1967. The time limit of 24 weeks for abortions performed under section 1(1)(a) of the Abortion Act 1967, was introduced by section 37 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990

Prior to this change, the abortion limit had, de facto, been 28 weeks gestation set by the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, which made it illegal to “destroy the life of a child capable of being born alive”.

The introduction of a 24-week gestational limit in 1990 was significantly motivated by the results of a Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) working party report on neonatal survival rates, which noted improvements in survival rates before 28 weeks of gestation.

During the debates ahead of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 becoming law, MPs referred to medical advances that had led to improved neonatal survival rates before 28 weeks gestation and the need for a reduction from 28 weeks.

Similarly, when the question of abortion time limits was revisited in 2008, the lowering of the abortion time limit in 1990 was again linked to the increased survival rates for babies born before 28 weeks gestation.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Many congratulations to baby Margo and her family on her discharge from hospital after nine long months of fighting! It is always uplifting to hear these amazing stories of babies surviving in spite of the odds, as it testifies to the strength and resilience of the human spirit even in the smallest of people”.

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.