There’s hope for SA’s smallest surviving premature baby, mom hears

2019-01-07 17:30
Baby Hope Daniels. (Supplied)

Baby Hope Daniels. (Supplied)

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When baby Hope Daniels was born at Netcare Kuils River in Cape Town, the odds were stacked against her.

She was born via an emergency C-section at 24 weeks on 19 March last year, weighing barely more than an average can of soft drink.

But after a tough nine months in the neonatal intensive care unit, baby Hope became the lightest micro-premature baby ever to survive in South Africa. She now weighs 5,8kg.

Hope’s mother, Dorianne, says doctors are pleased with her weight since she was discharged in December.

Bonding and catching up

"She’s doing very well. She’s taking the bottle and eating solids as well," Dorianne says.

"It’s been amazing having her home for the holidays – we had to stay at home and indoors for her safety because her immune system isn’t 100%, but it was me, daddy and Hope bonding and catching up," she adds.

For ledger clerk Dorianne, 36, and her ink technician husband Lesley, 38, the survival of their "miracle baby" has meant everything.

About two months before finding out she was pregnant, Dorianne was ready to give up. The couple had been trying to conceive for 10 years, including undergoing fertility treatment after Dorianne had been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome – a condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones that causes problems in the ovaries.

"I was actually at the point of giving up," she tells us.

"I remember I told a friend in November 2017 that 2018 would be the last year I go for fertility treatment, and if I didn’t fall pregnant I’d accept that it wasn’t meant to be."

Dorianne said she’d felt like a failure.

But, after falling ill with Bell’s palsy towards the end of 2017 – an illness that temporarily causes facial muscle weakness – her doctor warned her the medication to treat the condition could result in pregnancy.


'I was just shocked and almost hit a blank'


She took the news with a pinch of salt – until she fell sick again in January last year.

"I was sick over the weekend and consulted the doctor on Monday, 8 January. He said he’d take a pregnancy test but I told him I wasn’t pregnant."

The doctor took the test nonetheless, and the news she’d been praying to hear was finally relayed to her.

Lesley remembers the moment Dorianne broke the news to him as she walked out of the consulting room.

"I was just shocked and almost hit a blank. I thought I was going to be a daddy now and our family was growing," he says.

But the moment was almost short-lived – Dorianne developed pre-eclampsia 21 weeks into her pregnancy and had to be admitted to hospital for the doctors to monitor the baby.

The condition is a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, which can affect the foetus’ growth.

Hope’s fighting spirit

At 24 weeks doctors told her they’d have to deliver the baby and that she should prepare for the worst.

"Before I went into theatre I told God that this is now up to Him and I’m leaving it in His hands. I said, ‘You do what you do’, and He came through for us," she recalls.

Neonatologist Dr Zaheera Kajee says the hospital team were blown away by Hope’s fighting spirit.

"The team have been amazed by Hope’s dogged determination not only to survive, but also to thrive. I think we all steeled ourselves for the worst but, to our astonishment, she not only firmly announced her presence after she was born but went on to overcome most obstacles that such micro-premature babies usually face," Kajee says.

The team will keep a close eye on baby Hope’s development and health as she grows, she adds.

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