When Catherine Joy was just 22 weeks pregnant, nearly five months, she experienced bleeding.She called her doctor who advised her to go to Kenyatta National Hospital immediately.
She was given an injection to help her baby’s lungs function. Joy was put on bed rest for two weeks after which she got labour pains. s came knocking.
But baby Jeremy Tubula’s birth was normal birth. At birth, Jeremy weighed only 400 grammes. He left the hospital yesterday weighing 3.5kg after spending five months in KNH’s newborn unit.
Doctors said a baby born prematurely like Jeremy has formed organs. But they cannot function well, especially the lungs.
KNH chief executive officer Evans Kamuri said Jeremy is the second baby born prematurely at the hospital while weighing 400 grammes since inception of the facility.
“I screamed when I saw the baby at birth. I could not tell what it was when Dr Karanja showed the baby to me. I was scared to go to the nursery to see the baby,” Joy said yesterday.
Baby Jeremy was put under care in the newborn unit until yesterday when he was allowed to go home with his parents.
“It was not an easy journey because such a preterm baby requires close monitoring. The baby is prone to infections. They have challenges in feeding and controlling temperatures,” Dr Miriam Karanja, a neonatologist said.
“Usually we don’t start oral feeds for this kind of baby. For Jeremy, he was first put on IV fluids because we had to be sure that his system could digest the food before we initiated trophic feeding,” nurse Sally Ringera said.
The parents who come from Narok, but live in Pangani, could not hold back their joy.
They described their journey as draining both financially and emotionally.
“At least I can now hold my baby without fear,” Joy said.
Baby Jeremy’s father, James Narikae, who works at Serena Hotel, said they decided to name the baby Tubula. It is a Masai name that means the one born to prosper.
“When the baby was born, we did not expect him to come that early. When he came it was a mixed reaction because we didn’t know what to expect,” Narikae said
“We received a lot of encouragement from family and friends. That made us feel that we were not alone. It was not easy.”
The father said the bill stands at Sh3 million. But he is hopeful that the insurance cover from his employer will help offset the bill.
As they left the hospital, the couple was advised to cautious. If possible, the parents were told to avoid visitors for the next two months as the baby is still delicate and prone to infections.
Kenya is ranked 15th globally in number of premature births out of 188 countries. Causes of preterm births include short intervals between pregnancies, malaria, malnutrition, low weight and age of the mother.
Most of these can be addressed when identified early, especially when mothers attend antenatal clinics.
Neonatologists report that premature babies face feeding challenges which if not addressed can contribute to infections or death.