Doctors in Abu Dhabi saved the life of a baby weighing only 380g at birth, successfully treating him for several life-threatening conditions.
Mohamed was delivered prematurely by emergency Caesarean section at 28 weeks after doctors found him to be in distress during tests.
He weighed as little as a can of Coke and had to be resuscitated and ventilated after birth to help him breathe as his lungs had not yet fully developed.
He was also treated for anaemia, an electrolyte imbalance, a grade-one brain haemorrhage and patent ductus and an extra blood vessel in his heart, among other complications which are common in babies who are premature.
But after spending 124 days in the Nicu at NMC Royal Women’s Hospital, he was discharged in good health with no lasting medical problems.
“Mohamed had an incredible journey in the Neonatal ICU,” said Dr Aditya Rakhecha, head of the department and a consultant in neonatology.
“He stayed for 124 days in Nicu and could well be the smallest baby discharged from a private hospital, weighing only 380g at birth. Babies less than 500g rarely survive but he fought off various complications and progressed well in Nicu.”
His mother, Rawan Elbashir, 31, is a pharmacist and was being monitored closely because she developed hypertension in a previous pregnancy, which resulted in her giving birth to her daughter early at 32 weeks.
The first signs of trouble in her pregnancy with Mohamed developed at 18 weeks when doctors explained her blood supply to the baby was abnormal. She delivered him 10 weeks later.
“It all started when my pregnancy was less than 20 weeks,” she said.
“After being seen by the hospital’s fetal medicine expert, I was informed to have abnormal uterine doppler [a measurement of blood supply to the uterus and placenta], which can lead to the same previous condition of pregnancy-induced hypertension and premature delivery.”
She said her pregnancy and his first few months of life were difficult.
“I was prepared for Mohamed to stay in Nicu for the whole year but thanks to the excellent team that all ended much sooner,” said Ms Elbashir, who is from Sudan.
Abdelsalam Elamin, her husband, who is also Sudanese and works as a PRO, said he waited eagerly to hold Mohamed and take him home.
“It was an indescribable, incredible feeling. It was amazing and satisfying to watch him grow while he was in the Nicu,” he said.
Dr Eman Sadek, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at NMC Royal Women’s Hospital, said the majority of babies born that early and weighing as little as Mohamed do not survive.
“At birth, he only had a feeble heart rate without any spontaneous movement or breathing and needed immediate resuscitation,” said Dr Aditya.
“After being artificially ventilated, he became active, with good heart rate and skin colour.”
She said Mohamed was treated by several specialists, including a cardiologist and an ophthalmologist. He also underwent surgery to treat a hernia.
Low birth weight is classed as 2.5kg, or 2,500g. Babies who weigh less than 1,000g are considered to be extremely low birth weight. And those who weigh less than 500g have the most health problems and are much less likely to survive, Stanford Children’s Health said.
A spokesman for the hospital said it treats around 200 low-weight babies every year. It has discharged more than 50 babies who were born with extremely low birth weight over the past six years.
“I am delighted for little Mohamed and his family,” said Michael Davis, chief executive of NMC Healthcare.
“This young fighter braved all odds as his army of doctors, nurses, technicians, and other medical staff stayed focused on their mission of saving his precious life.”