IF River Willis had been born four days earlier he may not have received any medical attention – and his mum could have legally received an abortion.
But as it was the youngster, from Tredeger, South Wales, survived – despite arriving shockingly early at 24 weeks and four days.
He was so small at little more than 1lb he fit in the palm of mum Cara Willis’ hand and his skin was translucent.
Doctors are only legally required to intervene in babies born at 24 weeks, as at 23 weeks many babies are not considered ‘viable – although often medics do assist anyway.
Mum-of-four Cara suffered a placental abruption, when the placenta pulls away from the baby in July 2018 – months before his due date of November.
It is incredibly dangerous and occurs in around one per cent of babies.
As a result Cara, 24, needed an emergency c-section.
She bled so much afterwards she “turned the bed red”, she told Wales Online.
After seven hours Cara and River’s dad Luke were allowed to see their boy.
She said: “He was so early that his skin was still see-through. He also had a big bag over him to keep him warm and loads of wires around him.
“He was about half the size of the little teddy bears around him.”
She continued: “You could literally fit him into the palm of your hand, but we couldn’t hold him for two weeks.”
He was in hospital for months – and at one stage his weight dropped to exactly 1lb.
He also contracted sepsis, when the body overreacts to an infection.
His face swelled up dramatically at one point his parents didn’t recognise him.
He also needed milk from a donor mum as Cara had not started lactating, so early was his arrival.
As he was so premature he also had a hole in his heart, which is common among premmies.
But, at five months old, he was allowed home – and is now thriving.
Why is being born premature so dangerous?
A full term pregnancy is considered anything from 37 weeks on, but eight out of every 100 babies are born prematurely.
A premature birth is anything before the 37th week, and preterm babies will often need special care and support as they are not yet fully developed.
There are three categories to preterm babies: those born under 28 weeks are extremely preterm; between 28 to 32 weeks is very preterm; and anything from 32 to 37 week is moderate to late preterm.
One of the most premature babies to be born and survive is Amillia Taylor, born in 2007.
Amillia defied all odds when she was born at just 21 weeks, weighing less than 10oz and only nine-and-a-half inches long.
She was born two weeks before the legal time limit for abortion, which is 24 weeks.
For babies born under 22 weeks, the survival rate is effectively zero.
At 23 weeks it rises to 23 per cent, at 24 weeks 40 per cent, and at 25 weeks it is 66 per cent, rising to 77 per cent at 26 weeks.
There are a huge amount of risks associated with being born so early, as often babies’ organs and systems are not yet fully formed.
They may have health and development problems as they haven’t developed enough in the womb.
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This mum urges you to help and support bigger babies just like ones born premature.
And Coronation Street’s Kym Marsh helps us deliver cheer to parents and premature babies.
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