Praise for hospital in prem babies’ brave battles

LITTLE FIGHTERS: At a function yesterday for mothers with premature babies held at the Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth to celebrate World Prematurity Day are, from left, Cheron Dix-Peek with Eunika, 4 months, Sister Amelia Horne and Akhona Baatjie with Nayama, 3 months. Picture: MIKE HOLMES
LITTLE FIGHTERS: At a function yesterday for mothers with premature babies held at the Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth to celebrate World Prematurity Day are, from left, Cheron Dix-Peek with Eunika, 4 months, Sister Amelia Horne and Akhona Baatjie with Nayama, 3 months. Picture: MIKE HOLMES

EMOTIONS ran high yesterday as mothers shared heart-wrenching stories of how their premature babies fought for their lives at Dora Nginza Hospital.

After months spent at the hospital watching their infants in pain and administered hourly feedings, a group of Nelson Mandela Bay mothers attributed their babies’ survival to the excellent care they received in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Nikita Branken, 18, of Mount Croix, is mother to three-year-old twins Jayden and Jared, who were born at 27 weeks, with brain bleeds.

“When I had the twins I was a child myself and now I had to take care of these two very tiny little boys. I did not know what to do or to expect. It was all very scary,” Branken said.

“We moved back and forth from the neonatal intensive care unit to the prem unit and I was so scared of losing them.

“When I watch them play around at home today I find it hard to believe they were once fighting for survival.”

New mom Cheron Dix-Peek, 29, of Lorraine, gave birth to twins after a 6½-month pregnancy, with Eunika weighing 1 000g and Annique 1 040g. Annique died two weeks later.

Dix-Peek described the ordeal as scary and nerve-racking.

“I had a shortage of breast milk so I struggled to feed. Both of them had brain bleeds and a hole in the heart.”

The paediatrician in charge of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, Farhaad Khan, said: “The sad thing about prematurity is that most of the time it can be prevented. Causes such as substance abuse and illegal abortions are factors that should be dealt with in the community.”

He urged mothers to take advantage of antenatal care offered at clinics.

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