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Premature baby girl thriving after spending 247 days in intensive care

A family has shared the moment that their premature baby girl left hospital after an incredible 247 days.

After Shelby Rutledge’s waters broke unexpectedly after just 22 weeks and four days of pregnancy, doctors were uncertain about her baby’s chance of survival. Shelby spent 16 days in hospital before giving birth to River at 24 weeks via emergency Caesarean section.

River weighed just 1lb 6oz, and although she had been at 24 weeks gestation, her lungs were only developed to the stage of a 22-week old baby’s.

Doctors told the family that River might be expected to remain in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for up to a year.

“We were told River may not make it multiple times”, her mother said.

After only seven months, River was ready to go home

Shelby’s mother recorded the family leaving the hospital to a farewell from the NICU staff.

Shelby, who had been uploading River’s progress on social media, said “Being clapped out of the NICU after 247 days was bittersweet. Everyone was crying – and I mean sobbing”.

“We had created such a bond with the nurses, doctors, greeters, janitors, valet, everybody. The NICU was our second home, to say the least, so to say goodbye was hard”.

River is now on less oxygen at home with her two older brothers, growing and thriving every day, according to her mother.

“River turned around and showed everyone exactly what she’s made of and who she came to be: Strong. Resilient. Brave”, Shelby said

Baby River was given the middle name “Grae” after doctors told her mother that her survival was in a “grey area”.

Premature babies are having better outcomes than ever

At 24 weeks, River was born at the current UK abortion limit. Originally set at 28 weeks, the abortion limit was lowered in 1990 to 24 weeks gestation in reflection of medical and technological advances that had resulted in improving survival rates for babies born before 28 weeks gestation.

Since then, however, further medical advances have meant that babies born below 24 weeks gestation are increasingly able to survive.

The Gestational Time Limit Reduction amendment recognises this new reality and proposes, for similar reasons to the last time the abortion limit was lowered, to reduce the abortion limit from 24 to 22 weeks gestation.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “It is amazing to hear that baby River is doing well after an unbelievable 247 days in intensive care! The support that NICU staff provide for these very premature babies is inspiring and shows that with the right help, babies can survive from very young ages, even prior to the current UK abortion limit”.

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.