A woman who gave birth to a premature baby 70 years ago has knitted 70 hats for premature babies in the Forth-Valley neo-natal unit as part of a heartwarming thank-you to the NHS.
Mary Stellstrom from Falkirk was 18 years old when her daughter was born two months prematurely 70 years ago in 1950.
Her daughter Barbara weighed in at 2lb 12oz. Mary has described how her baby never would have survived without the dedication and hard work of the midwifery team at the Falkirk hospital.
As a heartwarming gesture, Mary who is a mother of four, has spent her time in lockdown knitting tiny hats for the premature babies being cared for in the Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
Mary said: “Someone had said the hospital was desperate for hats for the premature babies and I like to knit.
“During lockdown I wasn’t going out so I decided I’d knit 70 of them as Barbara was turning 70.”
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Promising chances of survival for premature babies
After her extremely premature birth in 1950, Mary’s daughter Barbara made astonishing progress and has now celebrated her 70th birthday.
With many medical advances now greatly improving the survival rates for premature babies, Mary has described how much has changed since her daughter was born.
Mary said: “My husband was allowed to see the baby once through the window of the incubator room where our daughter lay. He was then asked to leave.
“There was no touching, no holding. Just looking through the window. Holding her for the first time is a feeling I have never forgotten until this day.”
It has been widely reported that during the nationwide lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, premature births have plummeted by 90% in some countries.
However, advances in medicine and technology mean that babies who are born very prematurely now have growing chances of survival.
30 years ago, less than 20% of babies born before 28 weeks of gestation survived.
Evidence now indicates that 35% of babies born four months premature at 22 weeks old will survive if treated.