Kenyan baby born at 400 grams discharged from hospital after five months

Kenyan baby born at 400 grams discharged from hospital after five months

By Lilian Kaivilu


 Born on April 1, 2019 weighing 400 grams, Baby Jeremy Tubula was discharged today after being nurtured for five months weighing 3.5 kilogrammes, a key milestone in the referral facility and the country at large.

After nine months of pregnancy, many mothers hope to welcome a healthy baby from 37th to 40th week of gestation. But this was never the story of Catherine Joy, who delivered her baby prematurely, at 25 weeks weighing 400 grams.

Today, Baby Jeremy Tubula was discharged from Kenyatta National Hospital where he was successfully nurtured since his birth on April 1, 2019. Born at 400grams, doctors at the neonatal unit say although baby Jeremy’s major organs were fully developed at birth, a lot had to be done to keep it alive.

Catherine Joy with her husband James Meitamei Narikae with their five-month old Baby Jeremy Tubula who was born at 400 grams at Kenyatta National Hospital. The baby was discharged today weighing 3.5 kilograms. PHOTO: LILIAN KAIVILU

Catherine Joy with her husband James Meitamei Narikae with their five-month old Baby Jeremy Tubula who was born at 400 grams at Kenyatta National Hospital. The baby was discharged today weighing 3.5 kilograms. PHOTO: LILIAN KAIVILU

Keeping the right temperatures, maintaining a delicate skin as well as feeding the baby the right way were some of the issues that the team of doctors at the referral facility had to deal with. “Establishing the breathing and keeping the baby warm were very difficult. The skin was thin thus there was no fat to cover the baby. The baby was prone to infections generally because of the age,” said Dr Miriam Karanja, neonatologist at KNH.

Feeding, she says, was also a challenge. “We started with intravenous fluids. Such babies often die of low blood sugar in the body and when it came to feeding, was difficult because the system could not digest food normally. Many times, the baby was unable to digest even the mother’s milk. We started with 0.5mililitres of the mother’s breast milk but it still did not work. So it was a case of being patience throughout the process,” says Dr Karanja. But today, Baby Jeremy feeds normally.

Catherine Joy with her husband James Meitamei Narikae with their five-month old Baby Jeremy Tubula who was born at 400 grams at Kenyatta National Hospital. The baby was discharged today weighing 3.5 kilograms. PHOTO: LILIAN KAIVILU

Catherine Joy with her husband James Meitamei Narikae with their five-month old Baby Jeremy Tubula who was born at 400 grams at Kenyatta National Hospital. The baby was discharged today weighing 3.5 kilograms. PHOTO: LILIAN KAIVILU

A few minutes to 2pm, Catherine Joy joins other mothers at the Kenyatta National Hospital Prime Care Centre to attend to her four month baby Jeremy Tubula. This has been her routine since April.

Catherine remembers the journey that culminated in the birth of baby Jeremy on April 1, 2019. “I started bleeding on March 22 and called my doctor-Dr Barbara Magoha. She asked me to come directly to the hospital and encouraged me that I would have a normal delivery.”

Dr Magoha had been Catherine’s doctor during the delivery of her first two children who were born with no complications.  “When I saw my baby, I screamed. It did not look like a baby. I was even afraid of going to the incubator. The doctors, however, convinced me that the baby was going to survive. Now I can hold the baby without any fear,” says the mother of three.

“Towards the end of the 24th week, I gave an injection to strengthen the lungs of the baby. The following day the contractions increased and at quarter to five, the baby was born normally. The baby came out crying normally. The mother was strong and kept on saying that God would pull her through,” Dr Barbara Magoha, an obstetrician at KNH.

Kenya’s 400-gram baby discharged from hospital after five months

Kenyan baby born at 400 grams discharged from hospital after five months

The smile on the infant’s face depicts pure hope; hope of a being perhaps oblivious of the issues surrounding its survival this far. According to Dr Evanson Kamuri, chief executive officer of Kenyatta National Hospital the survival rate of such babies is minimal as they rarely come of age. “But the team was able to manage it to a healthy bouncing baby boy. We are happy of this milestone as a hospital,” he said.

Two weeks ago, another baby, Hope Lawrence Obonyo celebrated her eighth birthday. She was born at Kenya National Hospital, weighing 400grams. According to Hope’s mother, Winfrider Areri, the now Grade Three pupil at Wango Christian Academy in Bondo was discharged from the hospital on December 6, 2011, after staying in the incubator for four months. Born at 23 weeks, Baby Hope’ medical bill accumulated to Sh1.2million, a bill that the mother says was paid by her then employer upto 75 percent.

Winfrider Areri, with her daughter Hope Lawrence Obonyo. Baby Hope, 8, was born in ugust 2011, at 23 weeks, weighing 400 grams.

Winfrider Areri, with her daughter Hope Lawrence Obonyo. Baby Hope, 8, was born in ugust 2011, at 23 weeks, weighing 400 grams.

The premature birth of Baby Hope came as a shock to Areri and her husband who were expecting their first born child in 2011. But the baby was born prematurely at week 23 of gestation. Imagine a baby that is the size of an adult palm of the hand. This was the reality she had to deal with. There were no cloths that could fit Areri’s bundle of joy. “The baby could fit in my palm. There were no clothes in the market that could fit her. I remember the first time I had to buy her clothes, I went to Toi Market where I bought a doll, removed the dress and the socks and dressed my daughter in them. They fit perfectly.”

A visibly joyful Hope is the source of joy to her mother, a Communication Skills and English lecturer at Bondo Technical Vocational College. “I couldn’t think of any other name. It was a hopeless situation and her survival was a great milestone in our family.” Today, the mother explains, Hope is a bright student who take between position one and five in her class. The young one hopes to be a paediatrician. Areri hopes to help other mothers struggling with maternal complications to seek the right information regarding their situations.

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