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Survival battle of my 2lb grandson with no heartbeat
24 December 2011 @ 21:27



He’s only alive because of his mum’s intuition. Born 12 weeks early with no heartbeat, he weighs less than a kilo. Meet my new grandson 


Baby Buddy: The little mite had no heartbeat

I’M not exactly new to grandparenthood, if that’s the right word.

Up to last Wednesday my two daughters had their hands full with a handful of kids between them. Five, that is...or two and a half of each if the eldest got her way and was allowed to chop her despised cousin Charlie in two.

The two boys and three girls range in age from 20 down to five but all have one thing in common. They came into the world normally and were lucky enough to arrive healthy and complete.

So when my elder daughter Hayley found she was expecting, everyone assumed all would go well. I know she’s 41 and  it’s  12 years since her second daughter, Daisy, was born.

But all progressed normally right up to the 28th week – with Hayley and her partner Steve Holmes focused entirely on the scheduled arrival of a son in early March.

Then, 197 days into Hayley’s  third pregnancy, came a remarkable – and frightening – development triggered by the smallest hint that something was wrong.

Last Wednesday, the embryo child all but stopped booting hell out of Hayley’s body from the inside. She sensed that something was amiss, and although her midwife was not ­unduly concerned, the worried couple wanted to be sure.

A surreal scenario followed, with Hayley and Steve acting purely on intuition and forking out £100 for a  private consultation with a  paediatric specialist.

He sent them immediately to hospital, where  a scan revealed that the waters around the baby had all but dried up. Fearing the tot would not survive in this sea of nothingness, an urgent Caesarian section was ordered and the baby was plucked, lifeless, from Hayley’s body with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck.

The little one had no heartbeat and was not breathing.

For fully three minutes, doctors and nurses united in a battle to give life to the tiny foetus. For Hayley and Steve, those three minutes translated into a lifetime of lifelessness.

As the seconds ticked away, they named the baby Buddy, desperate that he should have a proper identity, even if he was never to draw breath.

Then, his tiny body invaded by a host of canulas, tubes and ventilators, a miracle occured. The mite’s heart began to beat.

Buddy was alive...if not kicking. All 992 grammes of him (or a tad under 2lb 2oz if you don’t do metric).

For 24 hours, his under-developed lungs were helped by a ventilator. Then another miracle; he started breathing by himself.

And another miracle, he scored 8 out of 10 in an official health check – a respectable score for a full-term baby, let alone a barely-formed Bud.

Amazingly, doctors told the relieved parents that had Hayley not gone to the paediatrician, the baby would have died inside her within two hours.

Over the next few days, Buddy went from strength to strength. He was two days old by the time I arrived in Manchester for my Christmas visit., exhausted after a five-hour delay in my flight from Murcia. Hayley was waiting for me in hospital reception...there were predictably lots of tears as we embraced.

With Hayley approaching her 42nd birthday, the chance of her conceiving again after a complicated Caesarean  is remote, to say the least.

And with Steve’s only previous marriage childless, this was  his probably his only  chance to fulfil his dream of fatherhood.

Hayley's hand shows how small Buddy  is

So they desperately needed  Buddy to be a survivor…and judging by his never-say-die attitude throughout his first week of life, he’s bionically indestructable.

After four days on the critical list in Intensive Care, he was reclassified at five days old as merely ‘vulnerable’. By the time you read this, he’ll probably be doing aerobics in his cosy incubator with its vivid blue light.

With his sensitive skin and distorted grimaces, there’s something unearthly about my sixth grandchild. He was not meant to leave the comfort of his human spaceship until early March and at less than one third of the weight of the typical new-born, I could easily confuse him with ET.

Particularly when my specs aren’t around.

It’s wonderful that, with his future now all but secured, I can joke about which planet the little fella came from. All of which leaves both Hayley and me in stitches.

Only mine don’t hurt.


Published in The Courier ( December 23, 2011

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