Tiny baby takes crucial steps

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Helvy Shaanika

Ongwediva-Baby Victoria, one of the tiniest – if not the tiniest – baby ever to survive pre-mature birth in Namibia has taken her first steps.

Victoria Patemoshela Ndahambelela Akumbi was born at 25 weeks, as opposed to the normal 40 weeks full term birth. At birth, she weighed a mere 595g. Her situation turned for the worse when her weight dropped to 435 grams.

According to the World Health Organisation, a baby born at 2.5 kg, is considered underweight and the full birth term is nine months, but Victoria was born at a mere five months.

Even the gynecologist who attended to Victoria’s mother thought it was a miscarriage. The infant’s head was so tiny: it was the size of the circle formed when the tips of the thumb and the index finger touch.

Today, however, Victoria is a walking miracle and a success story, thanks to her mother’s faith and the persistence of the medical staff at Ongwediva Medipark, that did not give up on her survival.

She is now a healthy two-year-old toddler, whose growth is progressing relatively well, in comparison to the ordeals she went through in the first stage of her life.

Dr Vincent Wright Luhango, the Ongwediva Medipark paediatrician, who attended to her since she was born, said Baby Victoria will undergo routine check-ups until she reaches schoolgoing age.

“She is grown. She is walking, although her speech is a little bit delayed. Her walking was also delayed, but she is walking now. This is a baby that stayed in ICU for too long, hence the delay,” Luhango explained.

Luhango said he has hope Victoria will catch up, but noted it is critical that her growth is closely monitored until she starts school. This will help doctors make recommendations if the child should be registered in a special school, if it is found that she experiences learning difficulties.

Baby Victoria’s mother, Rebecca Salom, whose spirit is always lifted whenever she talks of her child, said her daughter has started to mouth certain words and her speech was improving every day.

“Body-wise, she has also grown, although she throws tantrums whenever she is not happy about something,” she said giggling delightfully.

Raising a child like Victoria was not easy in the beginning, as everything had to be handled with care, because she was prone to infections.

At some point she was also diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), but it soon cleared up after she completed the treatment.

Salom said she has a supportive family, mostly her mother and her sister, who stood by her and gave much support to the young mother.

Victoria’s father, David Akumbi a police officer, also speaks about his daughter’s progress excitedly.

“She is growing. Her body has grown. There was a delay in crawling, but she is now walking perfectly. She is so beautiful, she is perfect,” he smiled.

Akumbi said his baby is a walking miracle, as he reflected back on the time when the family had little hope that she would make it out of the ICU.

“But she turned two on February 5th. It is really a blessing to see her walking and talking, but of course doctors are monitoring her growth and we are happy,” he said.

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