Baby Jazeel Hlophe, who was born at just 25 weeks and weighing only 395 grams, is expected to be discharged within the next week.
She was born on 21 July, three months ahead of her due date of 3 October, after her mother, Helen Sauls, started suffering from pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Dr Klaas Mnisia, a neonatologist practicing at the Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton east of Johannesburg, says baby Jazeel is defying the odds, growing stronger each day. (Neonatology is a sub-specialisation of paediatrics.)
“These days micro-premature babies [a baby born weighing less than 800g] have a better chance of surviving, and Jazeel is now thriving – she’s one of the miracles who shows us what’s possible,” Dr Mnisi says.
One aspect of the highly specialised care baby Jazeel received in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was colostrum from Netcare Ncelisa human milk banks. Colostrum is produced by mothers in the first few days after giving birth. It’s highly nutritious and a rich source of natural
“Jazeel’s gut was immature due to her premature birth, and giving her colostrum was the best way to prepare her gut for future feeding,” Dr Mnisi explains.
Helen says she’s excited about the prospect of taking her baby home.
“She’s been in hospital for nearly 150 days and has gained a lot of weight and strength in that time. Jazeel now weighs just over 2,2kg and now drinks the whole bottle when I feed her,” Helen says.
According to Dr Mnisi, there are no studies about babies who are born quite as small as baby Jazeel. “She’s one of the smallest I’ve heard of, and when the gynaecologist called me into the theatre when she was born, we were most surprised as she weighed less than 400g. The fact that she’s a girl gave her a better chance of survival, however, because female micro-preemies babies generally tend to do better than male micro-preemies.”
Sr Anina Klut, shift leader of Netcare Clinton Hospital’s NICU, explains that the nurses wanted to do something special for baby Jazeel before she’s discharged from hospital, so they made her a miniature Wonder Woman cape and embroidered the words “Littlest Miracle” on a Netcare babygro.
Dr Mnisi says the prospects for micro-premature babies have improved significantly in recent years. “With resources like donated colostrum becoming available, we’re likely to see more miracles like baby Jazeel growing up to be strong and healthy.”
World Prematurity Day is on November 17 this year.