Kwek Yu Xuan is a 14-month-old infant who underwent and survived an incredible life battle when she first came into the world.
Born prematurely at 212 grams on 9 June 2020, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, this small and fragile baby had a limited chance of survival.
Against the odds, with health complications present at birth, she has inspired people around her with her perseverance and growth. This makes the extraordinary “COVID-19” baby – a ray of hope amid turmoil.
And the parents have Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) to thank.
Not only did the revered institution help save the tiniest baby in the world, they also set a world record for successfully discharging the premature baby girl.
Tiniest Baby In The World Born At 212 Grams
Image courtesy: National University Hospital (NUH), Singapore
Kwek Yu Xuan was born to a couple who are Singapore permanent residents. They had initially intended to deliver Yu Xuan in Malaysia and reunite with their first child, a four-year-old residing in Malaysia.
However, due to preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), Mrs Kwek was admitted to the National University Hospital (NUH) and underwent emergency caesarean section at 24 weeks and 6 days of gestation instead of the average 40 weeks.
Yu Xuan was admitted in the NUH neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and remained there for 13 months, making her the longest staying baby there.
Her stay in the NICU was not always smooth sailing.
Yu Xuan had to rely on multiple treatments and machines for survival, and she responded positively to the medical care and treatment.
She was active, cheerful and responsive during her hospitalisation at NICU where staff from the Department of Neonatology of Khoo Teck Puat – National University Children’s Medical Institute (KTPNUCMI), NUH, took care of her and monitored her condition round the clock.
Now, Yu Xuan has grown to about 6.3kg and was discharged well on 9 July 2021.
Yu Xuan’s health and development have been progressing well with the unconditional support from her parents as well as the larger community and donors.
She currently has chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension – two conditions commonly associated with extreme prematurity. She is expected to get better with time.
Baby suffers from chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension
Image courtesy: iStock
Chronic lung disease: This condition occurs when a breathing machine or oxygen injures your premature baby’s lungs. Some of the symptoms may include difficulty in breathing. Therefore, premies may also need oxygen after they reach an adjusted age of 36 weeks gestation. Most babies are weaned off oxygen by the end of their first year. Treatment for chronic lung disease may include extra oxygen, a breathing machine, and surfactant replacement.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH): In this medical condition, the blood pressure in lung’s arteries becomes abnormally high owing to narrowing of the vessels. It is a cause of significant morbidity and even mortality in premature infants.
Kwek’s mum expressed her gratitude to the crowdfunding platform and to all the donors for generously contributing funds to sustain her daughter’s treatment.
“We are very grateful to the doctors and nurses of the NUH NICU team for the attentive and wonderful medical care and treatment of Yu Xuan. In addition, we would like to express our thanks to the crowdfunding platform and donors, as well as our relatives, friends, colleagues and the landlord of our residence for their care and encouragement,” “Mrs Kwek was quoted in a press release from NUH.
Yu Xuan’s parents also received assistance from the NUH Home Equipment Loan Programme.
As part of this scheme, they received a home ventilator, oxygen concentrator, oxygen saturation monitor, and other ancillary equipment to help support Yu Xuan for as long as she needs.
Read: Everything Mums Should Know About Breastfeeding A Premature Baby
Associate Professor Zubair Amin, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, KTP-NUCMI, NUH, said, “The NICU team is thankful to Yu Xuan’s family for the trust that they have placed in us to care for Yu Xuan. It was a difficult journey for Yu Xuan and we greatly appreciate the concerted effort and benevolent support from our colleagues, donors as well as the larger community who have contributed to her survival and growth. This was a team effort that embodies the spirit of care and compassion.”
Previous Tiniest Baby In The World Was Born At 245 grams
Yu Xuan is now possibly the tiniest baby in the world and discharged well.
The previous smallest baby in the world was born at 245 grams in the United States. She was born at 23 weeks and three days in December 2018. The doctor’s told Baby Saybie’s parents that she had just a few hours to live.
But the girl’s health improved miraculously in five months when she weighed around 2.5kg.
The previous record was held by a baby girl. She was born weighing 252g in 2015, according to the Tiniest Babies Registry, operated by the University of Iowa.
Smallest baby boy to have survived premature birth
Image courtesy: iStock
A baby, born weighing just 268g in Japan in 2019, was said to be the smallest boy to have survived premature birth.
According to a BBC report, Keio University Hospital mentioned that the survival rate of babies born weighing less than a kilogram is about 90% in Japan.
On the other hand, for babies born under 300g, it falls to around 50 per cent.
Survival Rate Of Premature Baby Boys Vs Girls
Medical experts have also found that the survival rate for the smallest babies is much lower for boys in comparison to girls. They are unsure why, though some believe that it could be linked to the slower development of male babies’ lungs.
How Old Is A Premature Baby?
Babies are considered to be preterm if they are born before the 33 weeks, they are too weak and not strong enough to breastfeed.
That’s because until about 32 weeks, babies can’t coordinate swallowing, sucking and breathing during breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. In fact, most babies develop the reflex of sucking and swallowing after 34 weeks.
So mothers will need to extract the breast milk to feed the baby.
After your baby returns home, their success at feeding and proper sleep is important for their health. You can expect your preemie to sleep more than a full-term baby, but it is usually for shorter periods. Which is why proper care and monitoring can help a premie recover soon.
News source: NUHS
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