Human Interest

After 100 days in the NICU, preemie Henry is home

Both Henry Morris and his mother Della Shiel overcame countless obstacles by the time baby Henry was finally able to come home from the hospital. Born weighing just one pound, two ounces, Henry spent 100 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) following his birth at 24 weeks.

Shiel and her partner Joe Morris had been trying for a baby for a year before Shiel made the decision to lose weight in order to help her conceive. She lost over 120 pounds and finally learned she was pregnant in October of 2022. Then, she struggled with hyperemesis – severe morning sickness – that didn’t let up as the pregnancy progressed.

Then, in March 2023, Shiel went to Rotherham General Hospital after experiencing a “gush” of blood. She explained, “On March 23, 2023, I was sat on the sofa, and I felt a gush. I looked and it was blood. I wasn’t worried – I had a little bleeding early on.” But she went to the hospital where she was shocked to learn she was in labor. 

According to The Yorkshire Post, she was dilated five centimeters and it was too late to do a cervical stitch to try to stop labor. Just two days later, she had to undergo an emergency premature delivery (not an induced abortion) after her water broke and she suffered an umbilical prolapse. The cord had dropped in front of the baby, causing an emergency situation for little Henry, potentially cutting off his oxygen and nutrients. He had to be delivered. 

Shiel said her room filled quickly with medical staff, and when Henry was born, it took four tries for them to intubate him before taking him to the NICU.

“When I saw Henry for the first time it was just surreal,” she said. “His skin was very delicate. I felt I was watching someone else’s life. It was hard to recognize him as my baby at first.”

After his emergency preterm delivery, Henry had nine blood transfusions, and overcame jaundice, sepsis, and acute kidney injury. He spent seven days on the ventilator before being moved to a CPAP machine to help his breathing. He also underwent laser eye surgery for his retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease common in premature babies. He also has pulmonary stenosis, a heart valve disease.

“The first few weeks were the scariest,” said Shiel. “Seeing something so small fighting – but knowing he should be tucked up in the womb was so hard. I brought him into this world, I knew everything he had to go through.”

Now four months old and weighing nine pounds, six ounces, Henry was able to go home with his parents in late June, 12 days before his original due date. 

“I feel really lucky to have him home.” said Shiel. She added, “It’s been lovely having him home. He presents as a typical newborn – sleeping, eating and filling his nappy.”

Babies born as early as 21 weeks have survived when given proper medical care. In the UK, it is legal to abort any baby up to 24 weeks, and certain babies – such as those with Down syndrome – can be aborted without limit, well past 24 weeks, the same age Henry was when he was born.

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