Fight­ing spirit

Fri­day is World Pre­ma­tu­rity Day, cel­e­brat­ing the sur­vival, the fight­ing spirit and the re­silience of the planet’s tini­est hu­man be­ings, but also a day to re­mem­ber those who sup­port and as­sist their fam­i­lies. Health writer Estelle El­lis caught up with two

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

THE sound of her son’s heart­beat in the womb af­ter she had de­vel­oped com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing her preg­nancy, was the best sound in the world for Kelly White­booi.

Two years ago, a dev­as­tated White­booi – who had al­ready lived through the trauma of two still­born ba­bies – watched heart­bro­ken as her mi­cro-pre­emie daugh­ter died af­ter a mo­men­tous strug­gle.

But four months ago, Eli­jah White­booi was born at 28 weeks, weigh­ing just over 700g. This week, re­count­ing her har­row­ing preg­nancy and her son’s in­cred­i­ble sur­vival, White­booi, of Cen­tral, said: “God has granted me a time of joy.”

Eli­jah will turn five months on Novem­ber 26 and his pe­di­a­tri­cian, Dr Greg Bo­den, says he is grow­ing well.

Af­ter her baby girl died, White­booi un­der­went tests that found she had a rare con­di­tion called an­tiphos­pho­lipid syn­drome, which makes the blood clot and the pla­centa die.

She did not want to get preg­nant again, but her con­tra­cep­tion failed and soon she found out she was preg­nant with Eli­jah.

“I went for my 3D scan at 22 weeks and ev­ery­thing was fine. When I went to the doc­tor at 23 weeks ev­ery­thing was wrong.

“For me, be­ing preg­nant started feel­ing like I was in a bad re­la­tion­ship. You know the guy is go­ing to hurt you, but you keep on hop­ing,” she said.

White­booi said she had tried to carry on with life but when her ob­ste­tri­cian, Dr Daniel Truter, called and asked her to see him the very next day, she was be­side her­self.

Truter said he had con­sulted with Dr Pi­eter Marais, who had suc­cess­fully used Viagra to treat a woman with the same con­di­tion. He sug­gested it to White­booi.

“The use of Silde­nafil [Viagra] for her con­di­tion was still ex­per­i­men­tal.

“I told her even if it all went wrong, we must know that we fought for the baby,” Truter said.

White­booi said the first few days she was in hospi­tal had been an ex­tremely anx­ious time for her.

“The nurses were won­der­ful. They have a small Dop­pler ma­chine [to lis­ten to foetal heart rate] and as soon as I got anx­ious they would let me lis­ten to his heart,” she said.

“It was the best sound in the world. Ev­ery sin­gle time I was so re­lieved.”

At 28 weeks, Truter told her that they had taken Eli­jah as far along as they could and she should have a C-sec­tion.

“When Dr [Greg] Bo­den handed me my boy, he gave a lit­tle cry and I just knew it was go­ing to be okay,” White­booi’s fi­ance Ryan Plaatjies said. Plaatjies had named his son a few days be­fore.

For the next three days, while White­booi – bat­tling deep emo­tions – couldn’t bear to see her child, Plaatjies spent the time with his new­born, tak­ing pic­tures to show his mom.

“I was in a de­pres­sion,” White­booi said. “I only saw him three days later. He looked just like his sis­ter.

“At first,” White­booi said, “we didn’t want to get too at­tached to him. But it was im­pos­si­ble.” Eli­jah now weighs 3.1kg. White­booi said: “Eli­jah is my fu­ture, my joy and my bless­ing.

“I am also so very grate­ful for his dad. I could not ask for a bet­ter fa­ther for my boy.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: EU­GENE COET­ZEE

MOM’S BLESS­ING: Dad Ryan Plaatjies with mother Kelly White­booi and Eli­jah White­booi, now four months old

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