'She weighed as much as a placenta': Heartwarming tale of 'miracle baby' Hayfah born at just 25 weeks

By Marelize Potgieter
04 September 2016

At birth little Hayfah was just 27 cm long and weighed just 440 g.

She wasn’t supposed to arrive for a while but when Hayfah Saayman made an appearance at 25 and a half weeks it was love at first site for her parents.

“I can remember the Monday when the gynaecologist told us we had two choices,” says Heinrich Saayman (33), Hayfah’s father.

“We can have her removed by C-section but the chances are good that she’s not properly formed yet or we can leave her in Fiona’s [his life partner, Fiona Zempie] stomach and see how she grows. But there was also the chance that she could die in Fiona’s stomach. So we were really stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"But Fiona (30) and me both agreed that we should take her out and at that moment we told God ‘This is your child. You made her and we hand her over to you.’

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“But thank God she was born on Wednesday 19 August 2015 with ten fingers and ten toes and all her body parts were fully formed.”

“The first time I saw her I couldn’t believe the tiny person that was in front of me,” her father from Ashton.

But it was really only the beginning of a long road for little Hayfah and her parents. “The fact that she was born so small and her lungs were not fully developed made it very hard for her to breathe.

“She was connected to countless pipes and machines and needed to receive oxygen all the time.”

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In the months thereafter Hayfah was in and out of the intensive care unit. She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension as well as the adenovirus and according to Heinrich the virus did her lungs a great deal of damage.

“The hypertension caused the vein between her heart and lungs to narrow and made it very difficult for her to breathe.

“The paediatrician told us to take things one day at a time and that Hayfah would show us when she was ready to come home. We thought it might take a month or three but three months became four, then five, then seven.

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“Every time mine or Fiona’s phone rang we expected it to be the hospital. It was a very difficult experience.” Heinrich says the time put a lot of emotional, financial and physical pressure on them and there were times that they resented each other. “But we got through it – the Lord is in control of everything.”

They could only hold her after fourth months because she was in an incubator and was hooked up to so many pipes. “It was one of the highlights in our lives as parents and it made us realise what a miracle she was.”

After six month in Panorama MediClinic Hayfah was transferred to a state hospital in Worcestor. She stayed there for a month before being discharged, but still needed to stay on constant oxygen until 27 April.

“We are aware that she is a bit behind but for us, just to have her alive means so much.”

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Everyone – doctors, paediatricians, sisters and friends – say that she is a miracle baby, says Heinrich. “They had never heard of such a small baby. One nurse told us that she weighs as much as the placenta.

She has been through so much and every time she makes it,” says Heinrich. “She has shown over and over again that there is nothing that can get you down.”

Heinrich says their friends and family were very excited when they met her for the first time on Easter Monday this year. “They’d only seen her on pictures and heard about her, but that day we got to show her to everyone. Hayfah is definitely a ray of light in our family.”

Heinrich says that if it wasn’t for the support of friends and family who stood behind them they may not have made it so far. “They really prayed for us and it carried us.”

Hayfah is a brave fighter, says her father. “I always say that I don’t think I’d go through as many things in order to fight for my own life. She kept making it through the darkest moments and she is still so tiny.

“She is really my role model because she shows me as a father that there is nothing that can get you down.

It’s going well with Hayfah these days and she now only uses her oxygen in the case of emergencies. Heinrich wants to inspire people who are in the same boat.

“Even though things look bad God is in control and he is the creator and the author of everything. Just trust and believe. Never give up hope, even when things look like they won’t work out.”

Read more:

This captivating photo series shows premature babies all grown up

‘We’re incredibly privileged’: Joburg mom tells of miracle after birth of ‘micro-triplets’

‘I needed to care for him’: Mom spends 15 days with body of her stillborn son

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