Patient stories

Preterm baby Teddy

Teddy weighed as much as a glass of milk when he was born.

Entering the world at 26 weeks’ gestation, Teddy weighing just 719 grams almost fit in his mother’s hand.

Mum Sarah Kirby said when Teddy’s heart rate started to slow while still in utero, doctors had to perform an emergency caesarean.

Teddy received care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for almost 100 days. He needed breathing support and a feeding tube to help keep his tiny body growing.

Teddy NICU

Image: Teddy received care in the NICU for almost 100 days.

“Everything happened so quickly, making it difficult to process that he wasn’t going to be born at full term,” Sarah said. I was just going through the motions until I saw him in the NICU and then reality sunk in. The first time I held him he was about the size of my hand.”

Sarah said given the harrowing statistics around babies born very preterm she was incredibly thankful that her little boy continued to “wow her.”

Babies born at 26 weeks have a 80 per cent chance of survival. Out of those that survive, one in 10 will have severe disability such as cerebral palsy, learning difficulties and problems with hearing and vision.

“Over the course of Teddy’s time in the NICU I would spend every day at the hospital, then pick my daughter up from school and after dinner I or my husband would check in on him at night,” Sarah said.

“When we were finally able to take him home it was a bit daunting but mostly a wave of relief and gratitude.”

Sarah said Teddy, now 14 months, was cheeky and inquisitive and only required physiotherapy support.

Teddy 2

Image: Teddy, now 14 months, is doing well and only requires physiotherapy support.

“With many babies born preterm they can take one step forward and then four steps back,” she said. But Teddy luckily hasn’t had many setbacks. Since leaving the hospital, he has managed to reach all of the required milestones. He is the light of our lives.”

Sarah said new national guidelines, led by a team from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), to improve the long-term health outcomes of children born very preterm was incredibly reassuring.

“Being a mum of a preterm baby is very overwhelming so having structure and access to the right supports once you leave hospital is invaluable,” she said. This will come as a huge comfort to families, knowing their babies will have the best follow up-care.”

Teddy with his family

Image: Teddy with mum Sarah and dad Corey and sister Lola.

child in hospital

Tomorrow's cures need your donations today

Donate now