A baby boy born at just 24 weeks is now “thriving” after spending 102 days fighting for survival in hospital.
Tommy Pratt, now three years old, was just 710 grams when he was born. A photograph taken by his father, Callum, shows Tommy’s foot measuring roughly the same length as his mother’s fingertip down to her knuckle.
Karianne, Tommy’s mother, reported that the pregnancy went “without a hitch” until 19 weeks, when she started bleeding. “I assumed the worst and rushed to hospital”, Karianne said, “but the doctors assured me he was fine”.
For the next five weeks, Karianne repeatedly attended hospital until she finally started going into labour at 24 weeks. Tommy was born breach and in his amniotic sack.
“It was horrible not being able to cuddle him straight away, but he had to be put in an incubator”, Karianne shared.
“When I did finally hold him I was terrified”.
“He was so tiny, and it was heart breaking seeing his little body connected to so many tubes and machines”.
Tommy experienced multiple complications in the early days of his life.
During his time in hospital, Tommy was diagnosed with chronic lung disease, an eye disease called retinopathy of prematurity, a large hernia and a brain bleed.
The hernia was removed by an operation, while his eye disease disappeared naturally and his chronic lung disease appears to be mild and, according to his mother, does not affect his day-to-day living.
Karianne said “It was daunting when Tommy first came home, as he was still on oxygen. It was the first time he was able to meet his sister Lily, as she wasn’t able to go into the hospital due to covid restrictions”.
Tommy is now attending an outdoor nursery, which he loves. His mother said “Looking at Tommy now, you’d never know what he’s been through”.
The survival rate for premature babies is improving
Tommy is not alone among extremely premature babies whose prospects have improved significantly in recent years. A 2004 Swedish study found that neonatal survival outcomes between 22 and 25 weeks gestation significantly improve when neonatal hospital staff take a proactive approach in the care of premature babies.
A 2008 study based on a neonatal intensive care unit in London also found that neonatal survival rates at 22 and 23 weeks gestation had improved. In 1981-85, no babies who were born at these gestational ages survived to discharge. However, by 1986-90, 19% did and this increased to 54% in the period 1996-2000.
A study in 2022 found almost four out of five babies born prematurely between 22 and 28 weeks gestation survive to discharge from the hospital. It found that from 2013 to 2018, with infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation, “survival to discharge occurred in 78.3% and was significantly improved compared with a historical rate of 76.0% among infants born in 2008-2012”.
Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Tommy’s story is inspiring, especially as he was born at the same time as the current abortion limit in the UK. Children like Tommy, born at 24 weeks, are going on to live largely unaffected lives and bring great joy to their families”.