Counting the little blessings

2018-11-20 06:01
Little Optimist Trust’s Greg Bertish with Faith Lehmensich, one of the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Little Optimist Trust’s Greg Bertish with Faith Lehmensich, one of the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

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Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital.

“It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital. “It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home. She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur. After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital. “It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital.

“It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital. “It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital.

“It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby. After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital.

“It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls. “We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur. After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital.

“It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

Although she had an unexpected, and early, start to life, Faith Lehmensich’s story was a source of inspiration for a World Prematurity Day event held last week.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

World Prematurity Day is celebrated annually on 17 November and serves to raise awareness around the challenges associated with premature birth.

According to Newborns Trust manager Amy Mac Iver, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

Mac Iver says: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families. Greg was not a premature baby but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals, and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality”.

The event was attended by Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, former patients and their families.

One such former patient is Faith (16). She is one the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing only 640g.

Faith’s mom, Andrea, underwent her usual check-ups and seemed to be having a healthy pregnancy, until she developed pre-eclampsia. Andrea started experiencing nose bleeds and high blood pressure, and doctors noted Faith “was not doing so well inside [her]”.

Andrea was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when doctors at Groote Schuur told her, one Friday, that Faith would be dead by the weekend. They immediately scheduled emergency surgery to remove the baby.

After the birth, Andrea was told there was only a 10% chance that her daughter would survive. This was compounded by the fact that Faith lost another 100g after the birth.

“It was very heart-breaking. It’s not the pregnancy you’re expecting,” Andrea recalls.

“We were going to pack up the cot at home and put it away. We didn’t think she would make it.”

But little Faith continued to make progress, and after three months at the hospital, could go home.

She weighed 1.7kg when she left Groote Schuur.

After months of having limited visits with Faith in hospital, bringing her home was a dream come true for her parents.

“I just wanted everyone to disappear,” Andrea says. “Life had been totally rocked and all I wanted to do was let my child know I was there 24/7.”

But their journey wasn’t over: Many of Faith’s developmental milestones were delayed, and Andrea found herself “throwing all the baby books out the window” and parenting by trial and error.

At the age of eight, Faith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and once she reached school-going age, she presented with a learning disability.

But none of this has stunted the growth of Faith’s spirit, with Andrea describing her as “a sensitive, soft-hearted child with a feisty personality­”.

Faith, who is now home-schooled, volunteers at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time, reading to and playing with the patients. She has also been a teen ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign.

“She has so much compassion for caring and helping others, even though she goes through daily struggles,” Andrea says.

“[We’ve learnt to] value the things other people take for granted, like beautiful times together.

Andrea still has the outfit in which she took Faith home from the hospital.

“It’s hard to imagine she was that small. [I’ve shown it to her] to say look where you come from. You’re healthy, you’re progressing and you’re on your own journey.”

At the event, Olympic athlete and fellow preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith. Van Niekerk, who’s currently in Paris, said the stories of Faith’s bravery really inspired him.

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