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.

India approves draft bill that could introduce disability-selective abortion up to birth

India’s Union Cabinet has approved a draft bill that would remove safeguards for unborn babies and introduce disability-selective abortion, possibly for conditions including Down’s syndrome and cleft lip, up to birth. 

Under the current law, abortion is permitted up to 12 weeks in cases where a medical practitioner finds the the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman could be at risk or 

if there is a risk the baby could be born with a disability or physical abnormality, such as a cleft lip. 

Abortion is then permitted up until the 20th week of pregnancy with the approval of two doctors, and only beyond that if the mother’s life is in danger. 

The cabinet, which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, voted last week to introduce a bill that will allow women to seek abortions at 20 weeks gestation, with the approval of one doctor, rather than 12 weeks.  

Additionally, a “special category” of women, including disabled women, will be able to seek an abortion up to 24 weeks with the approval of two doctors.

The proposed changes don’t just single out disabled women, but also babies with disabilities. 

The latest proposal states that the “upper gestation limit not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by [the] Medical Board.” Language worded similarly in the UK has allowed disability abortion up to birth. 

Last year, India’s Minister for Health was unashamedly candid about allowing disability-selective abortion up to birth, boasting about his plans to change the abortion law he stated: “The Ministry [of Health] has proposed to amend the MTP Act, 1971, to… expand access to abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds.” 

Fresh legislation to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 1971 will now be presented, debated and voted during the current session of parliament, which ends on Friday 3 April.

The cabinet’s decision, to introduce the bill, comes just months after the Government told the Supreme Court in September that the 20-week limit could not be changed, saying a foetus’s right to life transcends all other rights. 

Due to previous reports on sex-selective abortion in India, it is likely that the majority of abortions will have been performed on unborn baby girls.

Despite outlawing sex-selective abortion and pre-natal sex detection in 1994, census data from 2011 showed there were 914 girls to every 1,000 boys for children up to the age of six. In some northern states that ratio was as low as 850, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The World Health Organization says the natural sex ratio at birth is about 105 boys to every 100 girls.

Last year, it was revealed out of 216 births across dozens of villages in northern India, over a 3 month period, not a single girl was born.

Last month, the remains of what is estimated to be twenty-four unborn babies – were discovered in a blood-soaked bag, in West Bengal, India.

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

“Just months after being told the right to life transcends all other rights, the Indian Government has decided it will expand abortion access in the country and, therefore, deny the right to life to hundreds of thousands of babies every year. 

“Even worse, the new proposals single out those with disabilities, with the Minister for Health unashamedly announcing his plans to ‘expand access to abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds’.

“This not only involves singling out babies with disabilities, but also singling out mothers with disabilities and introducing new criteria that will allow for abortion between 20 and 24 weeks for women who have a disability themselves.

“Unfortunately, these extreme abortion proposals hit closer to home than you might think. The Conservative Government’s abortion framework for Northern Ireland, for example, will also permit disability abortion up to birth for conditions such as Down’s syndrome and cleft lip. 
“This abortion framework goes far beyond what the Government was required to do after it voted to impose extreme abortion legislation on Northern Ireland. Please join thousands  of others in joining our Protect women, Save lives campaign and urge your MP to write to the Prime Minister asking him not to go further than required and implement disability abortion.”

Baby girl born at 24 weeks with hands the size of a penny thriving at home

A baby girl given just a 5% chance of survival has beaten the odds and is now thriving at home with her parents Kym and Ryan.

With hands smaller than 1p coins, Isabella Evans was the smallest premature baby to be born in the UK, in over 15 years, at her birth on 14 June 2018.

Isabella had to be delivered prematurely by emergency caesarean after complications at 24 weeks, weighing just 12oz (340g), leaving doctors to fear the worst.

For the first week of Isabella was placed in bubble wrap to keep her warm and an incubator to help her breathe. Her parents could only hold their daughter in blankets for five minutes at a time.

And, at just three-weeks-old, the ‘little fighter’ underwent two life-saving operations including surgery for a ruptured bowel.

Isabella refused to give in and fought for six months in order to go home.

She has recovered well and has been enjoying life at home for just over a year, now weighing 13lb 7oz – the size of a healthy baby.

Her mother told the Mail Online: “Realistically, she shouldn’t be here. There were so many times we could have lost her. But she never stopped fighting.”

She added: “She is crawling and starting to stand up, and has a great appetite. Her favourite is a cheese and avocado sandwich. She’s so happy, and has a smile for everyone she meets. It’s incredible how far she’s come.”

Kym and Ryan are grateful for the care and support Isabella received from the NHS and its neonatal team.

Ryan said: ”There are no words for the gratitude I have. They have saved my daughter’s life countless times and I’d be nothing without her.”

Despite the fact that increasing numbers of babies born prematurely in the UK survive, in practice abortion is in most cases up to 24 weeks.

In fact, 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.

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 Sunday, two prominent pro-life politicians called for a review of the current time limits after new evidence emerged suggesting that unborn babies at just 13 weeks gestation could be suffering pain as they are being aborted.

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“Parliament should urgently revisit abortion time limits. It has been over a decade since they last debated fully.

“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.

“It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”