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.”

‘Abandoned as medical waste’: Abortion survivor shares her story

A woman who survived a failed abortion has revealed how she was saved by a nurse who heard her crying as she lay abandoned among medical waste at a US hospital.

Melissa Ohden was expected to be delivered stillborn after her 19-year-old mother attempted an abortion using a toxic saline solution, over five days, in 1977.

However, against the odds, Melissa survived and was born alive weighing just 2Ib 14oz (1kg).

Despite this, Melissa’s grandmother told her daughter that the abortion had been successful before encouraging medics to abandon the baby girl as ‘medical waste’.

Thankfully, a nurse heard Melissa’s weak cries and gasps for breath and rushed her to a neonatal intensive care unit.

The little fighter then went on to flourish with no long-lasting health issues.

Now, aged 42, Melissa has shared the powerful story of her adoption and reunion with her birth mother with The Sun.  

Melissa, who runs the Abortion Survivors Network connecting people who have survived abortions, says she only found out she was an abortion survivor when her sister, aged 14, without thinking said “at least my parents wanted me”.

At first Melissa was confused, but as the realisation kicked in – and she sat down with her adoptive parents – it led to a downward spiral in her mental health.

She said: “After finding out, I internalised my pain and let everyone think I was fine, but inside I was devastated.

“I struggled in a huge way and started drinking. I couldn’t control the very way I came into the world so I freaked out.

“However, I got through it with a lot of soul searching and aged 19, I decided to hunt down my biological parents.”

Five years later, aged 19, Melissa took the bold decision to track down the mother who had attempted to abort her.

It was a process that took more than a decade, but eventually, she found her and uncovered a shocking truth.

“She [Melissa’s mother] had been coerced by her now-dead mother into the abortion. Aged 19, she hadn’t wanted it.

“She thought it had been successful and when it wasn’t and I was born alive her mother told staff I was ‘medical waste’ and to put me aside.”

Recalling the moment she was finally reunited with her mother, Ruth, Melissa said: “As soon as we saw each other we just hugged and hugged.

“She said, ‘I never got to hold you.’

“Now we see each other all the time. We both live in Kansas City Missouri, and my children call her nana.

“There are still unanswered questions for us both, but what we do know is that although I was the intended victim in that abortion, she was a secondary victim. And we both continue to choose to rise above being victimised. We choose to thrive. To live. To love. To forgive. To give to this world.”

Melissa’s mother Ruth shared: “One of the best aspects of getting to know Melissa is discovering all the things we have in common.

“Comparing physical similarities was fun the first day we met – Melissa inherited some striking and beautiful features from her biological father, but I think we have the same nose and a similar shape to our smiles.

“We really looked alike when we were younger. If you put a photo of Melissa as a young teenager next to one of me from high school, you’d have a hard time telling who is who.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve discovered we share much more than physical characteristics. We are both passionate and driven; we tend to throw ourselves completely into whatever project we are working on. We are both empathetic, spending a lot of time worrying about others.”

Sofia Khan

Earlier this year, a grieving mother relived the harrowing moment she went into hospital for an abortion but instead gave birth to a live, crying, baby boy who died in her arms.

Doctors diagnosed Sofia Khan’s son with spina bifida during a routine ultrasound scan 20 weeks into the pregnancy and pressured her into an unwanted abortion.

At 25 weeks pregnant Sofia travelled to St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester to terminate the pregnancy.

But, before the abortion procedure she felt her son move. Sofia alerted midwives but had her concerns dismissed.

Ten hours later, she gave birth and was stunned to hear her baby son crying.

“I thought I was going mad. I thought I was hearing the cry because that’s what I wanted – my baby to be alive,” Sofia said.

“The midwife went into shock. She was screaming for help, she ran with the baby into the corridor.

“They brought him back and said: ‘What do you want us to do?’ and I didn’t know what they meant. I held him and cuddled him and told him how much I loved him.

“He was such a fighter. He had a huge hole in his spine and he was very disabled, and yet he hung on to life for an hour.

“I can’t help thinking that he was determined to have one cuddle with his mummy.”

Sofia and her husband named their son Mohammed Rehman. They gave him a full funeral and he is buried near their home.In 2017, a spokesman for the Department of health, claimed“information on the number of live births following termination of pregnancy is not collected centrally.”

Mother gives birth to identical triplets after refusing to abort one of them

A mother has given birth to identical triplets after rejecting advice from doctors to “abort Triplet B to give the others a better chance of surviving.

Summer Shillingford and her partner, Davidson Shillingford, believed they had been blessed with a miracle when they discovered they were expecting triplets.

But, 19 weeks into Summer’s pregnancy, doctors diagnosed her with Twin-To-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

The condition affects 10-15% of pregnancies where identical siblings share a placenta.

Abnormal blood vessel connections form in the placenta and allow blood to flow unevenly between the babies.

Recalling events, Summer told the Mirror: “The doctors suggested we abort Triplet B to give the others a better chance of surviving.

“But I said there’s no chance I’m going to do that. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I’d let him die.”

Echoing his wife’s sentiments, Davidson went on to say: “I focused on just ­positive thinking really. As for reducing because of the TTTS, that was never an option for either of us.

“These boys were meant to be here and it was our ­responsibility as their mum and dad to give them all a fair chance.

“We were very clear with the ­doctors we wouldn’t reduce from the start of the pregnancy and that didn’t change when TTTS was diagnosed.”

Because of the TTTS, Summer was sent for specialist laser surgery to break down the blood vessels in her placenta.

A check-up one week later revealed the triplets were doing well.

But, at 32 weeks, one day before she was due to have a caesarean section Summer started bleeding heavily and was rushed to University College Hospital in London.

Within three hours, Summer and Davidson had welcomed their three baby boys into the world.

Otis, Rocco and Prince were born weighing between 2lb 6oz and 4lb 1oz (1.1kg – 1.8kg).

Due to their size the brothers are currently being monitored in a neonatal intensive care unit, but are otherwise thriving.

Describing the birth, Summer said: “When the first baby, Otis, came into the world, he seemed to know his arrival was long awaited. He had his arms up and it was as though he was saying, ‘I’ve arrived, we’ve made it.’

Davidson went on to say: “It was a very happy moment which was mixed with relief to see my babies all come out crying.”

Sadly, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the boys haven’t yet met their six-year-old sister, Violet, or any of their extended family yet.

Summer said: “Violet has given them her favourite cuddly sheep and drawn them pictures saying she loves them”.

“I spend every day at the hospital and it’s relentless. They go through at least ten to 12 nappies each a day.

“We may eventually need to move to a bigger house or get a bigger car too. But for now we’re just delighted that our family is complete.”

Davidson added: “I hope my sons will grow up and become respectable young men who are kind to the planet and all the people on it… and maybe all play for Leeds United one day too – dads can dream.

“We hope to just enjoy lots of family time together in the future and are looking forward to introducing the boys to their big sister and all their relatives soon.”

First time mother told abortion was ‘best option’ gives birth to healthy baby girl

A mother who was told abortion would be the “best option” for her unborn child has given birth to a healthy baby girl, after rejecting abortion on four occasions.

Kimberley James was warned by doctors that her unborn baby would not survive after a 12-week scan revealed hydrops fetalis, an abnormal build-up of fluid levels in the womb.   

Kimberley’s baby was also diagnosed with cystic hygroma, a collection of treatable fluid-filled cysts which affects one in 8,000 babies.

The first time mother told the Sun she was then advised “at least three or four times to have an abortion” by doctors.

But she decided to trust her instinct and go ahead with the pregnancy.

“It must have been three or four people I was told, quite forcibly, that a termination was the best option.

“In the end we paid to have private scans and blood tests but we were determined to go ahead with the pregnancy.”

She added: “After the first time we had a scan at 12 weeks at Worcestershire Royal Hospital we were referred to a consultant, which we saw two days later.

“It was then we were offered a termination pretty much the second time we had seen her.

“We said no because it was absolutely not what we wanted to do.

“We asked them why and unfortunately they couldn’t give an answer.”

Just one month later, at 16 weeks, Kimberley and her husband Nick returned to Worcestershire Royal Hospital for a scan, which to the shock of doctors, revealed that both Kimberly’s hydrops fetalis and her baby’s cystic hygroma had gone.

Recalling events, Kimberley said: “At 16 weeks we went back to Worcestershire Royal Hospital for a scan and they were gobsmacked the hydrops had gone, which was the reason they had offered the termination.

“They didn’t know how it had disappeared and said it was unheard of.

“It had been there because you could actually see it on the scans and they had seen it in the private clinic as well.

“The cystic hygroma was part of it too and that had completely disappeared after 20 weeks.

“They checked her for it when she was born and she was all fine.

“The doctors were really, really shocked because they weren’t expecting it to disappear and the consultant couldn’t believe it.”

Kimberly’s pregnancy then proceeded without any further scares and on 9 May, she and her husband welcomed their 7lb 6oz (3.34kg) daughter, Penelope, into the world.

Kimberley said: “Penelope defied all odds and the hydrops disappeared at 16 weeks and the cystic hygroma also disappeared after 20 weeks.

“We are so in love with her and so thankful that we continued with the pregnancy despite the extremely poor prognosis at the start.”

Kimberley added that giving birth during lockdown made the experience “surreal” with women unable to have visitors while on the antenatal ward.

“All the women stuck together and interacted more due to this.

“Everyone had their curtains open and were chatting to one another.

“The staff said that this wouldn’t normally be the case if visitors were allowed as everyone usually keeps themselves to themselves, so it was refreshing that we were all supporting each other through this bizarre time.”