Born at just 21 weeks, one of the world’s youngest surviving premature babies now flourishing

A premature baby boy born at just 21 weeks and weighing just 13oz (0.37kg) is now flourishing and has been allowed to go home with his mother and father.

Born on 20 December, smaller than the size of an adult’s hand, Jemarius Jachin Harbor Jr is believed to be one of the youngest surviving premature babies in the world.

Jemarius’ mother, Jessica McPherson, has a history of premature labour and has previously lost two premature babies at 22 weeks. When Jessica went into labour at just 21 weeks she and her fiancé, Jemarius Harbor Sr, remember asking doctors to try and save Jemarius’s life, despite the odds.

“I just want you to try as long as you try that’s all that matters to me, don’t just up and say that you can’t do it. Just ‘cause you haven’t done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” Jessica told Fox 5 News.

Gina Phillips, Director of Medical Services at Pregnancy Aid Clinics, told the news channel at the time that Jemarius’ survival “would be [nothing] short of a miracle”, and put his survival chances at just four percent.

However, the little fighter battled on and is now believed to be the youngest surviving premature baby at Emory Decatur Hospital in Georgia, US.

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 you pass 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.

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.”

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