Little Tanya’s angels of mercy

Little Tanya, left, soon after her birth and, right, having fun after her first birthday
Little Tanya, left, soon after her birth and, right, having fun after her first birthday

Trio’s help saved premature baby born in toilet cubicle

WHEN Port Elizabeth teacher Karien Loots went into labour at a playpark, a waitress, a friend and a complete stranger helped deliver her baby.

Little Tanya Loots was born 10 weeks premature with the help of a doctor, who talked the women through the birth on a cellphone.

Loots recounted the astonishing story this week of her baby, now 18 months old, who was born in a toilet cubicle, and then wrapped in dirty towels.

The baby was barely breathing and turned blue before being rushed to St Georges’ Hospital. She was named Tanya – albeit spelt differently – after Loots’ friend, who helped her come into the world.

The name means: “worthy of praise”, a proud Loots said.

“I was 30 weeks pregnant. Three days earlier, I had been to my gynaecologist Dr Pierre Potgieter, and he said all was going well. My husband was not at home.”

“My friend and I decided to take our three-year-old daughters for an outing to Kiddie Lovers at Garden Lovers in Theescombe.

“I didn’t feel too well that day. I was very uncomfortable. I went to the bathroom where I realised that something was wrong and I needed to get to a hospital,” Loots said.

“I had trouble getting up from the toilet and I had no clue how to get to the hospital. I just started crying.

“Then my water broke and I started screaming for help. I knew my baby was coming.

“I was devastated that she was 10 weeks early. Somehow I knew that we were not going to have time to the get to the hospital. I was extremely anxious.

“A woman heard me and I asked her to call my friend, Tania Coetzee.

“Tania ran back to the car for her cellphone to call the doctor,” Loots said.

“At that stage, my baby’s guardian angel, Tracy, came in and held my hand. I was crying. I told her that the baby was coming and the next minute my baby was born.

“This woman was a complete stranger to me. I don’t even know her surname. Tracy caught her just in time so she didn’t fall into the toilet.

“The umbilical cord was around her neck,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tania had reached a doctor on call for emergencies and he explained how to cut the cord.

“God was so incredibly good to us that day.

“Tania turned around to go and ask for a piece of rope to tie off the umbilical cord. One of the waitresses was already standing there and took off the cord that she used to hang her pen round her neck.”

They also had already boiled water to sterilise a pair of scissors.

“Baby Tanya gave one cry and then turned blue. Tania started massaging her little heart and we were all praying for her. She was struggling to breathe. At least she was breathing.

“Tracy’s husband was already waiting outside to take us to the hospital. I was lying with my head in Tracy’s lap and I was praying all the way.

I couldn’t hear Tanya breathe but I could feel her little chest moving. I knew she was struggling.

“The nurses from the neonatal intensive care unit at Life St Georges Hospital were waiting for us at the casualty unit.”

Tanya’s temperature was 37°C. She weighed 1.62kg and was 42cm tall.

“We were blessed to have the neonatologist Dr Greg Boden on duty. He gave us so much peace. They gave her antibiotics immediately, mostly because she was born in a place where nothing was sterilised. It was only a precaution.

“They put her on a machine to help her breathe, but this was just to help her so she didn’t have to work so hard to get oxygen into her little lungs.

“There were absolutely no complications. She just had to grow.

“I only have the greatest praise for the personnel and doctors at the neonatal intensive care unit. They were so loving and supportive,” Loots said.

“On July 13 last year my baby turned one year old.

“I thank God every day for the life of my little girl and for his mercy.

“Of course I will never be able to say thank you enough times to my friend Tania, Tracy and everyone who prayed for my baby,” Loots said.

-Estelle Ellis 

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