Baby Lucas Simpson was over 100 days premature when he made his grand entrance into the world in June. Now he’s home for Christmas, a reminder that miracles still happen.
Born at a just 24 weeks, Lucas was a mere 1lb 6 oz. His mother, 29-year-old Laura Mount, had only known she was pregnant for three weeks when she delivered him, as Yahoo News reports. She and the baby’s father, Allan, were not quite ready for Lucas to join the world on the other side of the womb.
“I was in the bath and saw my tummy move,” she said. “I had irregular periods but no symptoms at all. It was a real shock, but even finding out at 21 weeks pregnant, I thought we had time to prepare. At my first scan we found out it was a boy; we just never imagined meeting him so soon after.”
But Lucas surprised them all — in more ways than one.
The UK baby would spend the first few months of his life 40 minutes away from his parents because the hospital where he was born wasn’t equipped for a preemie so tiny.
Metro.co.uk reports that the hospital was only equipped to care for babies 32 weeks and older, so baby Lucas had to be “blue-lighted” (a UK term for being taken by ambulance) the 40 minutes to a facility that could care for him. Laura told Metro’s reporter, “They gave me difficult information before I delivered, gently explaining the survival complications he might face. I had to be prepared for what might happen, because of how early it was.”
Seven blood transfusions, a hole in his heart, chronic lung disease, and even sepsis could not stop this little one. Metro.co.uk reports that “Lucas spent 52 days in the intensive care unit at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where he was delivered, before being moved to a high dependency unit.” His mom only held him for 30 seconds the night he was born before he was moved to a ventilator. She said, “His skin was so fragile and see-through, we could see his veins.”
Lucas is being called a miracle baby by many, and while the label is warranted, it also is a label that is becoming more and more common, with good reason: as one New York Times story reported last year, technology has advanced so much that babies born even between 22 and 23 weeks are now surviving, where in the past, doctors often thought they had no chance to live.
The Times noted:
The chance of a baby surviving birth at 24 weeks or later is usually high enough that doctors will attempt life-saving treatment, which involves resuscitation in the delivery room followed by care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)... But each year in the U.S. about 5,000 babies are born in the uncertain window between 22 and 23 weeks, in which their chances of survival are generally low but not zero. This is because the treatment of premature babies has undergone a slow revolution within the past 60 years, successfully treating ever younger babies.
And while some physicians debate which preemies should receive treatment, the Times story says technology is advancing to levels that explain why Lucas is home for Christmas:
This progress is not the result of any single new technology, but the slow improvement of NICU treatments around vital functions like breathing, digestion, and brain protection. For instance, newer ventilators improve respiratory support in extremely premature babies by delivering tiny puffs of air at fast rates. Buoyed by successes, some hospitals are honing their techniques and trying treatments on younger babies than ever before. If they had success with 24-week babies, the thinking goes, shouldn’t they offer treatment to 23-week babies? And after the CDC reported that 47 percent of 23-week babies survive, what about 22-week babies?
Lucas’s mom told Yahoo, “After everything he has been through, I wonder how he survived, but he is a fighter.”
Now, baby Lucas is home with his big brother Isaac, who is two. They are all going to celebrate their first Christmas as a grateful family of four. “He has slotted into our family and completed us,” said his mom. “Having him home is the best present I could have wished for.”
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