Ongwediva Medipark on Monday discharged a baby girl, whose life hung by a thread after her weight drastically dropped to 435 grams after she was born.
The baby was so tiny her head was the size of the circle formed when the tips of the thumb and the index finger touch and doctors had even lost hope.
At birth, Victoria’s weight was a shocking 595g, way below the 2.5 kg regarded as underweight by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This weight dropped to less than 500g and doctors even gave Victoria’s parents the option to take her off the life support machine.
But miraculously, baby Victoria Patemoshela Ndahambelela Akumbi was sent off home with her parents by a cheerful group of medical staff at Medipark.
Victoria now weighs 2.5kg and is affectionately known among the hospital staff as Mancane, the name that she was given by nurses, which means “little one” in one of the South African indigenous languages.
According to Dr Vincent Wright Luhango, a paediatrician who treated her, this miracle baby went through a series of serious medical conditions, including severe infection, renal failure, pneumonia, and low and high blood pressure.
Some veins in her head raptured, causing her to bleed from the brain and her head swelled severely.
There were times when he thought that if Victoria survives, she may become impaired and could lose some of her limbs, Luhango said.
Luhango and his colleagues told New Era that throughout their medical careers, the tiniest babies born before arrival (BBA) they ever treated were 700g and above. Normally Victoria’s term of arrival is considered as an “abortion”, as she was too tiny.
During prenatal visit, the gynaecologist allegedly told Victoria’s mother that she was showing signs of miscarriage.
She then gave birth at five months, and the doctor initially considered her case as that of an abortion.
At some point, the hospital had to give counselling to the young mother, as they believed her baby would not make it and to have her removed from the life support machines, as there was little hope that she would survive.
Beatrice Shikongo, a registered nurse who is part of the team that natured and cared for Victoria, said the baby was born on February 5, at 25 weeks (five months).
A normal full term birth is 40 weeks.
“There were times when everyone was doubtful but there was a nurse who had faith and courage in her survival. She kept saying that the baby would live. The mother of the baby is also a very strong woman,” explained Shikongo.
Recalling her ordeal, Victoria’s mother, 23-year-old Rebecca Salom, said her baby was born at 04h00 on February 5. “When the baby came out, the gynaecologist was just standing not doing anything because he believed that the baby was not going to live, but there was Sister Nangobe. She said the baby was alive, it was going to make it. She rushed the baby to the neo-natal intensive care unit. The doctor and the father had all lost hope but I knew that Victoria would live to testify the glory of God. I sent my mother to bring my Bible. I kept praying,” said the God-fearing Rebecca Salom.
“Now she is a good girl and I don’t know if I will ever be this happy in my life. I feel complete. My baby’s father is also the happiest man, he calls every minute to check on his daughter,” said Salom.
Baby Victoria’s father David Akumbi (24) is a police officer at Outapi.