An extremely premature baby born in Tasmania at just 27 weeks and weighing 540g had to battle a string of medical issues and three bouts of sepsis but is now a thriving two year old.
When Hadrian was born in Hobart, in Tasmania, Australia, the odds were stacked against him from the beginning. His mum, Nikola, had to have an emergency caesarean section over three months before her due date.
“I had a spinal anaesthetic so I was awake for the procedure”, she said. “He was so tiny; I briefly saw him then they whizzed him away. I was so worried about the outcome as he was born so early, all I could do was hope that he would be OK”.
Hadrian was so small, his lungs were barely working and the doctor had to provide a dose of surfactant to prevent them from sticking together. He had problems with his blood sugar levels and was just four days old when he first became unwell with sepsis.
He got sepsis three times
Hadrian then had serious problems with his heart and had to be flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne when he was just four weeks old.
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Nikola said: “We hadn’t heard any updates on how he was doing, so called the Care flight team. They told us he was really struggling to keep his body temperature warm enough. He was on so many medications – and the next 24 hours were touch and go”.
Hadrian then developed sepsis again and necrotising enterocolitis, a serious condition where tissue in the gut becomes inflamed and starts to rot away. Nikola’s family were unable to visit due to COVID restrictions at the time.
“The heart surgery went well, and afterwards I was so relieved. Hadrian was still super small and weighed only 700 grams. A day later, he was wriggling around so much, they had to give him more sedation, as he was trying to pull all the tubes out”.
Her son then contracted sepsis for a third time and was diagnosed with premature retinopathy and needed laser surgery.
“There’s no denying it’s hard, but it is so rewarding.”
Hadrian never gave up though and 104 days after he was born, his parents were able to take him home.
His mum said: “He weighed just two kilos, and he was on home oxygen and a monitor. I was feeling almost back to my normal self, pumping breast milk every few hours, as he was too little to breastfeed – it was very tiring”.
“He is now almost two now and does have some minor global delays, he’s at risk for cerebral palsy, but it will probably be mild. It impacts his balance and coordination”.
“I know most toddlers are clumsy, but he is exceptionally so – so there are lots of tumbles and falls. He sometimes forgets how to do things too and gets frustrated”.
“Having a micro premmie can feel like a scary journey at the time you are going through it, but at the same time it is so beautiful to watch them progress and blossom. There’s no denying it’s hard, but it is so rewarding”.
Outcomes for premature babies are improving all the time. Earlier this year, John Wyatt, Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College London and also Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, Ethics & Perinatology at University College London, presented evidence to parliamentarians from the UK and across the world “that there has been a steady improvement in the chances of survival of babies born at 22 and 23 weeks gestation since the Abortion Act was last amended [in 1990]”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: “Premature babies are a persistent challenge to supporters of abortion because the humanity of the baby is on clear display. In the UK, sadly, it remains legal to abort a baby up to birth if that baby has a disability”.