WHEN Ipswich mum Erika Brown was warned her tiny premature baby boy had only a “slim chance of surviving”, she never gave up hope.
And eight months on Oliver Bate-Brown – who was one of the smallest and most premature babies born at Mater Mother’s Hospital at South Brisbane last year – is thriving and tipping the scales at 6kg.
Ms Brown, 20, was rushed to Mater Mothers’ for observation when her waters broke just 23 weeks into her pregnancy last June.
Baby Oliver was born a week later – and four months’ premature. He weighed just 520g, about the same as a tub of butter.
Doctors warned Ms Brown and her partner Lachlan that their son faced a desperate fight for life.
But Oliver had a world-leading team of doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health clinicians on his side in Mater’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he received around-the-clock care for four months.
The North Booval couple said it was “touch and go” for a long time, but their brave little boy slowly grew stronger.
“When he was born, my one hand could cover his whole body,” Mrs Brown said.
“He was so tiny and there were moments when I thought he wasn’t going to make it, but I look at him now and can see he’s a fighter.”
During his lengthy stay in hospital, Oliver required various forms of breathing support, received several blood transfusions, and continuously fought off the risk of infection.
Although Oliver has been diagnosed with a chronic lung condition due to his prematurity, which still requires oxygen and regular paediatric check-ups at Mater, he is otherwise a healthy baby and is reaching his key milestones.
“We are just enjoying every moment at home with Ollie. He’s so cheeky and he looks at me in the cheekiest way. He sleeps with his arms straight out like a bird and it’s so cute,” Ms Brown said.
Mater Director of Neonatology Dr Pita Birch said babies born at 24 weeks gestation had a 70 per cent chance of survival.
Dr Birch said last year, 1825 babies received care in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, with 18 of those babies born before 25 weeks gestation.
“Thanks to modern maternity care and research, the medical, nursing and allied health teams within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are able to save sick babies like Oliver,” Dr Birch said.
Erika thanked the specialised teams at Mater Mothers’ Hospital for saving her once pint-sized son.
“I walked into the hospital everyday knowing we were going to be taken care of – and that’s exactly what happened,” she said.
“No one understands how gut-wrenching it is to be away from your child when they are still in hospital, but we felt understood.”