A 22-year-old American footballer who has been selected to play for the NFL team Seattle Soundhawks was given a 1% chance of survival at birth.
Derick Hall was born in 2001, four months before his expected date. The now six-foot-three linebacker weighed just 2lbs 9oz at birth and was so small that he fitted in his mother’s palm. Mum, Stacy Gooden-Crandle, was told that it would take a miracle for her son to survive and that he would likely be born without a heartbeat. Thankfully, Hall was alive at birth and immediately transferred to intensive care.
Even though Hall was born alive, Stacy was told that her son’s chances of surviving a 5-month incubation period were negligible. Following months of incubation, oxygen support and feeding tubes, Hall was finally ready to leave hospital.
Hall’s premature birth meant that his mum had to put him through classes and therapy for speech and physical development. Although he was smaller than the other kids, Hall started playing flag football at four and transitioned to the contact version of the sport at 10. While he struggled initially, during his teenage years he began to improve drastically, playing at the same level as his peers.
Although mum, Stacy, was scared to let him play, Hall said that his mum began to understand that this was his way of dealing with multiple trips to the hospital and the extra care that he had to receive. Hall said “She knew that was just my way of escaping. Most kids were like, ‘Ah, I don’t want to go to practice’, but I was excited to have an opportunity to do something other than lay up in the hospital or get shots or go and get a breathing treatment”.
Hall went on to play for Auburn University in Alabama before being drafted to the NFL team Seattle Soundhawks and is now gearing up for his rookie season.
Improving outcomes for premature babies
A study, ‘Mortality, In-Hospital Morbidity, Care Practices, and 2-Year Outcomes for Extremely Preterm Infants in the US, 2013-2018’, by Dr Edward F Bell of the University of Iowa, 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”.
The study, which took place between 2013 and 2018, assessed 10,877 infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation in 19 academic medical centres across the US.
This means that almost four out of five extremely prematurely born babies survived and were able to be assessed at 22-26 months corrected age (22-26 months from their due date) for a number of health and functional outcomes.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Derick Hall’s inspirational story is a testament to the improving outcomes for premature babies and a constant challenge to the current abortion time limit of 24 weeks in the UK”.