Mater’s smallest baby a Christmas ‘miracle’ this year

Mater’s smallest baby a Christmas ‘miracle’ this year

The smallest and most premature baby born at Mater Mothers’ Hospital South Brisbane this year will spend Christmas in hospital - a bittersweet moment for Queensland parents Ashlee Eager and Benjamin Walsh.

Moira is a miracle baby for the Fassifern Valley couple, who was born 17 weeks early at less than 24 weeks gestation and weighing just 546g.

Due in December, Moira was born on September 5 after Ms Eager’s waters broke without warning.

“The drive to the hospital was one of the hardest moments of our lives,” she said. “I could feel contractions starting but l didn't want it to be true – I kept coming up with other reasons for the pain.”

Moira was in fetal distress by the time Mr Walsh and Ms Eager arrived at Mater Mothers’ Hospital and she was born at 11.31pm, kicking and trying to breathe.

Now, after more than three months in Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit, Moira weighs just over 2kg and still requires respiratory support.

Knowing Moira would spend the festive season in hospital, her parents bought new outfits for her to wear in the lead up to Christmas.

“Christmas this year will be bittersweet,” said Ms Eager, a high school teacher.

“Although it will be tough that Moira is still in hospital, we are so grateful to have her and so is her 11-year-old brother Lestat.”

“We call her our rainbow baby. I suffered two miscarriages before falling pregnant with her, so we are happy to have our baby girl.”

Director of Neonatal Critical Care Unit Dr Pita Birch said survival rates of babies as young as 22 weeks gestation had dramatically improved in the past decade as a result of new, life-changing technologies and treatments.

“Ten years ago, it was rare for the Mater to provide neonatal intensive care to babies born at 23 weeks and we wouldn’t always provide neonatal intensive care at 24 weeks either,” he said.

“Now, we are providing intensive care for a large number of babies born at 23 weeks, like little Moira, and almost all babies born at 24 weeks.”

Dr Birch said Mater clinicians would be caring for about 80 babies who would spend Christmas in Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit this year.

Ms Eager said Moira’s biggest hurdle had been her immature respiratory system.

“The doctors at Mater not only work miracles medically, but the care they continue to show Moira and my little family has made something that is incomprehensible bearable,” she said.

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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