Dubai: A baby girl born in Dubai at six months, measuring just 11 inches and weighing 460 grams – as against the average 20 inches and 3.5kg of full-term newborns - received a warm homecoming on Thursday after she miraculously beat the odds at a private hospital over the last three months.
As little Leia’s parents Anisha and Nizar prepared to bring the now 2.5kg bundle of joy home after a disquieting 97-day stint at the Mediclinic Parkview Hospital NICU, it was clearly an emotional moment.
“I still can’t forget how tiny she was when she arrived on March 11. At the time, it was not about whether she would be okay, but whether she would survive at all. But there was something about the little squeak that she let out that seemed to say, hey, I want to live,” said Anisha.
The Indian expat recalled how she and her Lebanese husband had visited the hospital after she developed a mild fever and bacterial infection on March 8. But little did they realise that the visit would end up in the premature delivery.
“We had left our first born, just over two years, with family at home, saying we would be back in no time. But I stayed on at the hospital for five days, as I went into labour and delivered Leia on the fourth day. It’s been nothing short of a nerve-wrecking experience,” said Anisha.
Nizar said the doctors, who were new to them since they had been consulting with others earlier, greatly helped manage their expectations. “The positivity around us really made a difference as it was a huge ride,” he said.
‘Weight a little more than a can of soup’
Dr Mudit Kumar, consultant paediatrics and specialist neonatologist, Mediclinic Parkview Hospital, said, “Leia was born at 24 weeks, which is almost 16 weeks earlier than expected and she weighed just a little more than a small can of soup. Now she is almost five times her birth weight and feeds directly from her mother.”
He said, “Despite being born so small and early, the baby defied all odds and did not have any major complications, which most extreme premature babies face. Some babies may not survive them and some can even lead to long term complications.”
But Leia was on the ventilator only for two days, which Dr Kumar finds exceptional. “Such babies have very immature lungs and they are on the breathing machine for days, sometimes even weeks. But Leia was different. She also did not have any bleeding inside the brain, which almost three out of four babies born so early have,” he noted.
According to him, “All these factors together are no less than a miracle as survival of such babies is very low.”
He said obstetrics and neonatal care of fragile babies is critical as even before they are born mothers can be given medicines that reduce chances of long-term physical and mental disabilities in the child. “The mother in this case received the right medications at the right time. She went into early labour and delivered Leia by natural birth. The baby has also received only breast milk since birth until now, which not only boost her immunity but also gave her the right amount of nutrients. Also being female went in her favour as all the data suggests that female babies survive better than males in such cases.”
He said Leia’s parents were also very proactive and even after her birth, they were switched on and had a positive approach. Parents of such babies should not lose hope as lots of these babies when they grow up go to mainstream school and can achieve incredible things in the creative, academic, science and leadership fields.
Did you know?
Some celebrities who were born premature include Stevie Wonder, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Sidney Poitier.