Parents of premature babies have spoken of their hopes for the future of their tiny babies born in a hospital in west London.
Amazing advances in technology and the treatment of babies means the survival rates for those born at 22 to 25 weeks has risen 13%, reports the Mirror Online .
This advancement in care means the mothers, whose children are staying in the neonatal intensive care unit for premature babies at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in Hammersmith, can look to the future with hope.
It follows getwestlondon 's report last month on Isabella Wilson-Stefanovic, dubbed the "miracle baby" who was born after just 25 weeks of pregnancy and weighed just 722 grams .
Among those mums grateful for the great strides in neonatal care is 33-year-old Stephanie Conway.
Her son Finnley was due on July 11, but he was born on March 26, Mother’s Day, at a day short of 25 weeks, weighing 1lb 10oz.
He now weighs 2lb 1oz and is 14in long.
His fragile state means he has spent his short life in an incubator, connected to an oxygen tube and wired to equipment measuring his heart rate, the oxygen saturation in his blood and respiratory rate.
It also meant his mum had to wait an agonising 18 days until she could hold her son, something she has gone on to do only three times to date.
“He’s a fighter. He is fighting right here on my chest,” Stephanie says. “He is the strongest person I’ve ever met in my life.
“I know he’ll come home with me. I have to stay positive. We’ve seen lots of babies go home from here. That can be us.”
Improvement in neonatal care of premature babies also was reflected in figures last week that showed the number of babies who survive birth at 23 weeks has hit a record one in three.
The hospital’s consultant neonatologist, Dr Jay Banerjee, said babies of Finnley’s size generally have a 80% to 90% chance of surviving now, thanks to the expert care they receive.
“We have a very, very good record,” he said. “We might lose a baby once every two months on average. That is terribly hard. We have two full-time psychologists here, for parents but also for staff. But many babies survive here.”
One in 11 babies are born prematurely.
The hospital, based next to Hammersmith Hospital in Du Cane Road, White City , has 26 neonatal beds.
Along the unit from Finnley is Dan Spatariu. He, too, was also born at 24 weeks and six days, on April 4. At 1lb 12oz, he is doing well.
Mum Ene Mihaela, 29, from Harrow , says changing his specially made nappy is precious. She adds: “When I do that, I can be part of his life.”
Facilities at the hospital, one of five run by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, here are especially good.
Elsewhere in the country the survival rate is more like 50% to 60% for a baby like Finnley, Dr Banerjee says. But premature babies face improving prospects.
Stephanie, from Bromley in Kent, went into labour while at church. She had enjoyed a good pregnancy until then and gave birth at her local hospital two hours later. The cause of her early pregnancy is not known.
Finnley was then transferred to Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, but developed a bleed on the brain.
“He was on the maximum level of support,” says Stephanie.
The next time she saw her baby boy, he was on a ventilator.
Dr Banerjee says: “He was a very sick little boy in the first 72 hours.”
After that time Finnley was still critical but stable. His parents could hold his hand through the incubator.
Finally, on day 18, Stephanie was allowed to hold her son.
“They say it’s good for the babies, but it’s amazing for the mothers as well,” she says.
An infection almost forced Finnley back on a ventilator last week. His life is clearly still walking a tightrope, but the swelling on his brain is shrinking. Dr Banerjee is cautious but positive.
Stephanie insists: “He has a future, I know he will come home with me.”
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