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Premature baby who was given just one day to live defies the odds to reach his first birthday

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Premature baby who was given just one day to live defies the odds to reach his first birthday

  • Marie Clare Tully, 41, welcomed son Hector at just 23 weeks in November 2021
  • She was told he had ‘a slim chance’ of survival, but he celebrated first birthday 
  • Hector has host of complicated health problems, including chronic lung disease

A premature baby who was given just one day to live has defied the odds to reach his first birthday.

Marie Clare Tully, 41, welcomed Hector at 23 weeks in November 2021, and has described her son as ‘beyond a miracle’ after fighting to survive despite a plethora of complications. 

Little Hector has spent 259 nights of his life at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh, undergoing 15 operations and being rushed to A&E 25 times.

He was born with hydrocephalus – which means spinal fluid cannot flow around his body due to a bleed on his brain – chronic lung disease, retinopathy and centralised sleep apnoea.

Marie Clare Tully, 41, welcomed Hector (above) at 23 weeks in November 2021, and has described her son as 'beyond a miracle' after fighting to survive despite a plethora of complications

Marie Clare Tully, 41, welcomed Hector (above) at 23 weeks in November 2021, and has described her son as ‘beyond a miracle’ after fighting to survive despite a plethora of complications

His mother Marie told BBC Scotland that she feels like the ‘luckiest person’ to have Hector, who she described as ‘so fun’ and ‘bringing so much joy to so many people’.

After his birth, Marie and his father Angus were told to say goodbye because there was a ‘very slim chance’ he would survive his first night.

The couple were unable to see their son for the first 40 hours of his life due to Covid restrictions at the time, which Marie described as ‘heartbreaking’.

It wasn’t until he was five days old that Marie and Angus were able to be with their son day and night, but Hector remained on a ventilator until he was 42 days old.

This was when Marie was told by doctors that her son was going to survive, and the mother said she ‘let out a wail that came from the bottom of my soul’. 

‘There was still a long way to go but to know the team thought he was going to survive was so great,’ she said. 

Little Hector (above with Marie) has spent 259 nights of his life at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh, undergoing 15 operations and being rushed to A&E 25 times

Little Hector (above with Marie) has spent 259 nights of his life at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh, undergoing 15 operations and being rushed to A&E 25 times

He was born with hydrocephalus - which means spinal fluid cannot flow around his body due to a bleed on his brain - chronic lung disease, retinopathy and centralised sleep apnoea

He was born with hydrocephalus – which means spinal fluid cannot flow around his body due to a bleed on his brain – chronic lung disease, retinopathy and centralised sleep apnoea

In April 2022, when Hector was five months old, he was finally able to go home.

Marie said: ‘I’m so proud of him. He is a miracle, he is beyond a miracle and I am so proud of him.

‘It is because of everyone’s positive prayers that he has been pulled through and we have made sure to surround him with all the love and joy and hope so that he feels absolutely adored.’

The mother said she makes sure ‘every day is great’ for Hector, who still suffers a raft of health problems including headaches, sickness, blurred vision and difficulty walking.

EXPLAINED: PREMATURE BIRTH AND ITS RISKS TO BABIES

Around 10 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide result in premature labour – defined as a delivery before 37 weeks.

When this happens, not all of the baby’s organs, including the heart and lungs, will have developed. They can also be underweight and smaller.

Tommy’s, a charity in the UK, says this can mean preemies ‘are not ready for life outside the womb’.  

Premature birth is the largest cause of neonatal mortality in the US and the UK, according to figures. 

Babies born early account for around 1,500 deaths each year in the UK. In the US, premature birth and its complications account for 17 per cent of infant deaths.

Babies born prematurely are often whisked away to neonatal intensive care units, where they are looked after around-the-clock.  

What are the chances of survival?

  • Less than 22 weeks is close to zero chance of survival
  • 22 weeks is around 10%
  • 24 weeks is around 60%
  • 27 weeks is around 89%
  • 31 weeks is around 95%
  • 34 weeks is equivalent to a baby born at full term

EdinburghLive reports these conditions are likely to affect him for life.

But despite the complications, Marie described 2022 as ‘the best year of my life’. 

Pippa Johnston, director at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, told the newspaper: ‘Hector and his family are inspirational and have shown so much strength through an unimaginably difficult year.

‘Hector is truly a hero in every sense of the word. Sadly the reality is that some families have to be in hospital over Christmas.

‘While we can’t take away their pain, we can deliver happiness. Together with the NHS, we work hard to make sure families like Hector’s don’t miss out on the magic of the festive season.’

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