A Singaporean girl born at just 22 weeks and the youngest known premmie in the country in the past decade is now a healthy and thriving five year old.
Baby Chelsea Kiew was born so early and unexpectedly that her father, Raymond, had to be guided by emergency medical staff over the phone before Chelsea and her mother Lin Hsiao Chi were taken to hospital in May 2018. She weighed just 510g at birth and required 100% oxygen and maximum ventilator support in order to breathe.
Her mother said “I was petrified. But when I heard her crying, at least I knew she was alive”.
Dr Tan Pih Lin, a senior consultant at the department of neonatology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, reported that her chance of survival was close to zero at birth. But her parents didn’t give up hope.
Chelsea’s father said “We visited her every day, told her stories and encouraged her to believe in herself and explore the world. We believe such support is crucial for premature babies”.
Chelsea was active at birth with a good heart rate despite being born so prematurely
Baby Chelsea had to spend 166 days in hospital receiving a variety of life-saving treatments, and even after she was discharged, she required respiratory support for a further nine months due to her chronic lung disease. However, she recovered and grew out of this condition.
Chelsea now has no health or medical conditions related to her prematurity, other than a small hole in her heart.
Her father said “We don’t see any impact from the hole in her heart. She can still run about, take part in all activities, depending on her mood”.
A 2008 study based on a neonatal intensive care unit in London 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 “Chelsea’s amazing journey from her very premature birth and medical challenges to now living with no major health issues speaks to her resilience. The improved survival rate for extremely premature babies is a constant reminder of just how backward our abortion laws are”.