Baby Jibreel was born 15 weeks early, weighing only 838 grams. During his five months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), doctors offered to turn off his life support five times. His mum refused and the four year old is now thriving.
Born three months early, fighting for survival
Nicole Dib was shocked when her waters broke at 25 weeks gestation, 15 weeks before her due date. She says she thought to herself “Okay this is bad, this is too soon”, but jumped into action.
Nicole already had experience of premature births as her daughter had been born at 33 weeks. She went straight to the hospital where doctors did all that they could to stop her from giving birth. However, despite their attempts, baby Jibreel, known as Jibby, was born 15 weeks early by emergency c-section, weighing only 838g, or 1.8lb.
Little Jibby was taken straight to the ICU where he was put on life support. Nicole and her husband, Youssef, had to wait to hold Jibby until more than two weeks after his birth.
Similar appearance to pregnancy app descriptions
Jibby’s mum recalls feeling very shocked when she saw him as he did not look like a newborn, but rather like what her pregnancy apps said he should look like for his gestational age.
“The first time I saw him, I’m not going to lie, my head spun and I felt like I was about to faint because what I was seeing was like something I would see in my app every day”, she said.
“I would open my app and get excited, ‘Oh what does my baby look like today?’ and it was exactly like that, his eyes were still fused closed, there was nothing of him”.
Doctors raise turning off life support five times
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when Jibby’s organs started to fail. Thankfully, doctors removed part of his bowel and gave him a stoma bag, which saved the organ.
Nicole and Youssef, Jibby’s parents, had refused the option of declining resuscitation. However, as the baby got sicker and sicker, doctors raised the question of turning off his life support five times. Nicole called the questions “confronting” but explained that she and her husband were begging the doctors to “do whatever you can to save Jibby”.
“One night we got a call from the doctor saying Jibby just gave up and he had to resuscitate him but he’s here and he’s okay”.
Pamphlet gives parents hope to persevere
It was the story of another mother and baby that gave Nicole and Youssef the hope to persevere. A mother of a baby born at 24 weeks gestation and weighing 640g had left a pamphlet in the NICU sharing her hopeful story.
Nicole said “We kept being told Jibby’s sick and he’s not going to make it. I just kept looking at this mother’s little booklet and that gave me so much hope”.
Jibby is now four and is amazing people with his progress. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy a few months after being discharged from hospital following a bleed on the brain that he had while in the NICU. However, the family have shown the same perseverance in supporting him with his disability and he is now walking independently.
Messages to other parents of premature babies
Based on her experience, Nicole is keen to share with other parents about the possibilities for babies who are born prematurely. She urged others to remember that “It’s very scary but these tiny little humans are stronger than we think. Don’t give up, give them a chance and don’t lose hope”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Little Jibby’s story, and his parents’ determination to fight for his life, is a wonderful testament to the value of life. More and more, babies who are born prematurely are surviving at remarkable rates”.