Hospital’s youngest surviving premature baby now home

A hospital’s youngest premature baby who was born more than four months early has been allowed to go home.

Lilly Rae was born on 9 December at just 22 weeks and two days gestation at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But despite weighing in at just over 1lb (511g) when she was born, about the same as a bag of sugar, Lily Rae proved to be a fighter.

Lilly was born with a beating heart, but struggled to breathe and move.

She was immediately put onto a ventilator, which she stayed on for seven weeks.

During her stay in hospital, Lilly suffered a bleed on the brain, underwent major surgery on a distended intestine and had to be put on a course of antibiotics to treat a series of life-threatening infections.

Then the coronavirus lockdown meant her mother Tayla Menear could only visit her daughter for two hours each day, while father Shane had to stay at home.

Thankfully though, following care from staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Lilly has grown stronger every day.

And last week, on Tuesday morning, Tayla and Shane had a call from Lilly’s neonatal nurse to say she could be discharged home that day.

Lilly can now begin her next chapter of life at home with her mother and father.

Having been born at just 22 weeks and 2 days, she’s the youngest surviving premature baby that the hospital has ever looked after.

Leaving the ward last week, Tayla said: “I cannot believe this day has come. We never dared hope that this could happen.

“I still don’t think I will believe it until Lilly is tucked up in her Moses basket at home with me and Shane.”

Specialist neonatal outreach nurses will continue to monitor her progress with regular visits to see her at home.

Consultant neonatologist Dr Priya Muthukumar said she is “reasonably optimistic” for Lilly because “her brain scans while in the neonatal unit have been reassuring and she has made very encouraging progress so far.”

Taylar said staff at the unit had been “incredible”.

Speaking about her experience she added: “For the first few months of Lilly’s life no-one knew if we would ever reach the point of going home as a family.

“I have since come across other cases and now want people to know if they go into labour at 22 weeks not to feel hopeless. There is always a chance.”

Last year, it was revealed that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

Additionally, a recent study has revealed the majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems.

Sadly, it is currently legal in Great Britain to abort unborn babies up to 24 weeks, or up to birth if doctors believe the baby will be born with a disability.

In 2018, the latest year with published data, 845 live births were recorded in England of babies with a gestational age of less than 24 weeks, according to the Office for National Statistics

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“It has been over a decade since abortion time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008. Since then the survival rate for premature babies has doubled.

“Our current abortion time limit, at 24 weeks, is way out of line with medical breakthroughs and the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks, making time limits an issue Parliament should urgently revisit.”

“Additionally, independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below.”

World’s second most premature twins given zero chance of survival are now thriving

Premature twins given zero chance of survival are now thriving and should be able to join their parents and big sister at home next month.

Twin sisters Makayla and Makenzie Pope each weighed just over 1lb when they arrived at 22 weeks and three days, on 8 December 2019.

Their mother, Tracey Hernandez, told Metro how she started to feel “uncomfortable” when she was out Christmas shopping on the twins’ premature arrival date.

Just a few hours later she found herself in labour, 18 weeks early, nervous and scared that the twins would be delivered stillborn.

Recalling the experience, Tracey said: “When I went into labour they told me the survival rate for them was 0%. They said that babies born at less than 23 weeks just don’t make it.”

However, Makayla and Makenzie Pope were born alive and breathing meaning doctors from Duke University Hospital in North Carolina had to help the little fighters.

Their mother recalled the relief she felt at the time, saying: “They were only able to help them survive because they both came out breathing on their own. If they had struggled to breathe the doctors said they wouldn’t have been able to resuscitate.

“The moment I saw them gasping for air was the best moment of my life, it was such a relief.

“When I first saw them I just thought ‘wow’. They were here and they are not even developed yet. ‘Their skin looked see through and they could fit in the palm of my hand.”

But, after more than four months in intensive care, the strong little sisters are progressing remarkably well and aside from some non-critical breathing problems should go on to make a full-recovery.

After successfully overcoming the crucial first few weeks of their fragile lives, Makayla and Makenzie are learning how to breathe on their own and feed from a bottle.

Doctors are now hopeful of being able to send the girls home next month to be with their eight-year-old sister, Jada, and mother Tracey and father Anthony Pope.

“Everyone is just so shocked at how well they are doing and no one gave them a chance before they arrived.

“I am so lucky and I know it’s an absolute miracle. I feel blessed.

However, Tracey who is a nurse says the survival of Makayla and Makenzie raises questions about how late doctors should be allowed to carry out abortions.

Tracey, who describes herself as pro-life, said: “My babies are proof that 22 weekers can survive if given the chance.

“It’s not right that life is only viable at 23 weeks. Normally babies born before then are just written off and not given a chance to survive.

“I just don’t agree with the abortion laws as they stand at all. My two babies came out alive and looked fully formed.

“Babies this small can survive and are a real life…the limit should be lower.”

Last year, it was revealed that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

However, it is currently legal in Great Britain to abort unborn babies up to 24 weeks, or up to birth if doctors believe the baby will be born with a disability.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said: “It has been over a decade since abortion time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008. Since then the survival rate for premature babies has doubled. Our current abortion time limit, at 24 weeks, is way out of line with medical breakthroughs and the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks, making time limits an issue Parliament should urgently revisit.”

Makayla and Makenzie have entered the history books as the world’s second most premature babies to ever survive.

According to Guinness World Records the most premature twins are Keeley and Kambry Ewoldt, from Iowa, who were born at 22 weeks 1 day on November 24 2018.

In the UK, premature twin boys Ashley and Joe Keates each weighed less than 1lb when they were born at just 23 weeks.Doctors gave them just a 1% chance of survival but like Makayla and Makenzie, Keeley and Kambry are now thriving at home.

Premature twin girls thriving after doctor suggested leaving them to die

A mother has criticised doctors who refused to give her care and said she should let her twin daughters die when she went into labour at 22 weeks.

Kayla Ibarra and her twin daughters, Luna and Ema, are now thriving at home with their older brother Noah and father Dardo.

One year on, revealing their story on her blog, the mother-of-three said the twins are “‘typical one-year-olds’ and no one would even know they were born 18 weeks premature.”

Kayla and Dardo were already parents to 18-month old Noah when they decided they would like to have another child. Both were delighted months later to find out they were expecting twin girls.

Kayla said the pregnancy felt “normal” until she noticed a small spot of blood when she went to the toilet. She called her midwife who recommended she went into hospital to make sure she didn’t have a bladder infection.

The pregnant mother rushed to hospital but had to wait four hours before seeing anyone because the nurses had “forgot” she was there.

When Kayla did eventually see a nurse, she was rushed into a backroom for a urine test and then called downstairs for an ultrasound.  

When the urine test came back clean, the mother burst into tears because she “knew this was labour.”

She continued: “I started bawling my eyes out as I was finally wheeled to the ultrasound room.

“While getting the exam done, I kept telling the tech I was having contractions. She kept telling me to relax and all would be fine. I stood up and BAM, my water broke.”

Through tears a concerned Kayla asked, “what’s going to happen to my daughters?”.

As she was pushed in a wheelchair to an upstairs room of the hospital, a nurse responded, “the babies will be born today and they will die.” 

By the time Kayla was taken back upstairs, her whole family was there waiting for her. They asked the nurse, “what do we do, what can we do?”.

However the nurse again said that “there is nothing that can be done, the twins will be born today and they will die.”

Realising they wouldn’t get the care or help Kayla and her family wanted for her twins, the family began to search for alternative hospitals with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who would give her unborn twins a chance at life.

The family found a hospital in Ontario that was willing to help premature babies from 24 weeks, but her doctor refused to transfer Kayla to the new hospital and even refused to administer medication for her pain.

Furthermore, the doctor refused to allow Kayla to see her twins or hear their heartbeats dismissing the plea as a “waste of time,” instead saying “this [the labour] is going to be quick, let’s get it over with.'”

However, Kayla’s contractions stopped and her doctor agreed to let her rest.

Despite the fact her labour had stopped, a new doctor who had been assigned to Kayla urged her to deliver the twins the following morning through an induced labour.

However, knowing they wouldn’t intervene to save her twin girls, Kayla said: “I told him I refused to start labour again and as long as the twins are in me they are breathing and safe. He also denied me medication that would help the twins lung and brain develop.

Four days later, a shattered Kayla went into labour again at 22 weeks and two days – which was four days too early for the nearby hospital to intervene.

“I felt so defeated. I lost,” Kayla said.

Fortunately, a new doctor had been assigned to Kayla just as midwives were setting up the delivery room.

The doctor thought it was worth calling the hospital in Ontario who agreed to take the premature babies on.

Recalling the moment, Kayla said: “I felt hope. Finally, someone was going to just call and see. Within 15 minutes, he was back in my room coat on and said, ‘two hospitals agreed to take you… Soon, we were racing down the highway.”

Within hours, Kayla had given birth to Luna and Ema.

The twins barely weighed 1lb when they were born and spent a total of 115 days in the NICU, but they recovered remarkably well and were able to go home before their original due date.

Kayla said her twins have changed her life forever and she now wants the world to know premature babies can survive and can thrive.

“We went from a 0% chance of survival to celebrating over one year of life,” she added.

The survival rate for extremely premature babies in the UK has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy – the age of Kayla’s now healthy and thriving twins.

The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, included a presumption against attempting to provide life-saving treatment to a baby born before 23 weeks, on the basis it would not be in the child’s best interests.

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 a new analysis from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

Furthermore, the majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems, a study revealed last year.

In a Facebook post post, Kayla recalled what a doctor said to her on day 65 of the girls’ NICU stay:

“The girls really have changed the way we view micropreemies here and in particular 22 weekers. It’s because of them that we have put certain protocols in place when dealing with micros and we have learned so much do’s and don’t’s from the girls. They have taught us so much and because of them, other 22 weekers will have the chance in our hospital. You did that, the girls did that.”

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“Stories of premature babies fighting and thriving, like Luna and Ema, along with recent new guidance and advances in medicine, showcase why this issue is one that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament in 2008. 

“Independent polling from 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.

“We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb.”

Woman born dangerously premature dedicates life to saving other vulnerable babies

A woman who was born dangerously premature has become a doctor and is now dedicating her career to help save other vulnerable babies.

Sabina Checkett was given just a fifty per cent chance of survival when she was born two and a half months early, weighing just 2lbs and 10oz, almost thirty years ago.

But Sabina beat the odds and was able to go home with her parents after three months at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in February 1987.

Now aged 32, Sabina works as a specialist on the neonatal intensive care unit in Evelina Children’s Hospital – having first decided she wanted to become a doctor aged just six.

Sabina told The Mirror: “My school did some fundraising for our local neonatal unit, and because the school knew I was born there prematurely, I went along to visit.

“After walking on the ward and seeing all of the newborn babies in their cots, I came home and told my mum I wanted to be a doctor.”

Sabina said that because of her own battle in early life, she has a special bond with the babies she cares for.

She added: “Though it was a long and often difficult road, I felt like I wanted to give something back to the NHS that had saved my life.

“I was just like them all those years ago and now I’m helping to look after them.”

Dr Grenville Fox, clinical director of Evelina London neonatology, said: “Advances over the last 30 years mean that the outcomes for babies born at 28 weeks is typically far better than when Sabina was born.

“However her story shows that being born prematurely doesn’t necessarily mean it will hold you back.”

The news comes after a recent study found that the majority of premature babies, who are now adults, grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems.

The survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting 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 a new analysis from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

The findings of both studies have prompted calls to review the current law in order to help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies capable of being born alive.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“Stories like Sabina’s add further pressure 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 majority of Europe.

“We urge everyone to ask their MP candidates to sign our Both Lives Pledge and commit to lowering the gestational time limit for abortion, something that is well-supported by women.

“Independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below.”

About 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year, of which 3,148 are considered “extremely premature” — born before 27 weeks.