Pull out the purple during world prematurity awareness month
In support of World Prematurity Awareness Month in November, neonatal wards at Tygerberg Hospital will be draped in purple for premature babies (preemies). The colour purple represents sensitivity and exceptionality, which is fitting for this year’s World Prematurity Day (17 November) under the theme: Together for babies born too soon – Caring for the future.
The idea of World Prematurity Day was born on 17 November 2008 when proud parents welcomed their healthy baby girl into the world after having lost triplets due to preterm birth.
1 out of 10 babies is born prematurely, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Preemies have not grown and developed as much as they should have before birth. A baby born three weeks or more before the due date is called premature. It can happen to everyone, irrespective of where we live, our culture or socioeconomic status. Preemie Day seeks to raise awareness of the challenges and burden of preterm birth globally. Many preemies face serious lifelong health challenges. It is also a time to reflect on the amazing advances that have been made to improve the outcomes of these tiny human beings and to celebrate the healthcare workers and parents that care for them.
Parent Hannelie Louw shares her miracle baby’s story. ‘She arrived at 27 weeks, on 21 September 2016 at 11:21. We named her Hayley Hope Louw, and she weighed 630 g, after an emergency C-section due to preeclampsia. When we saw her face for the first time, it was love at first sight. We saw her fighting spirit and determination! This, and the amazing doctors and nurses caring for her, reassured us that her life would be saved! Hayley spent more than two months in an incubator in the NICU. I still remember the smell of the sanitiser and the monitors beeping around us. This soon became our world, travelling every day to see Hayley. Having to see her with all the tubes connected to her, was an ordeal. Tears ran down my face every day to see my little one like that. Her dad just picked her up once and never again because she was so tiny. Those were difficult days for us. And all that carried me through were the kangaroo mother care, praying, reading, and seeing my little girl gain weight.
‘Today, Hayley is 4 years old and weighs 15,8 kg. She is doing well and continues to grow! We are grateful for each day with our Hayley. I would like to share with my fellow-miracle-baby parents that being the parents of a preemie means you are extra special. And after all, God doesn't just pick anybody to witness a miracle.’
These little ones need loads of love and support and World Prematurity Day is a chance to show it. So, pull out the purple (a ribbon, T-shirt, dress or trousers) and join us to celebrate the day, and share your photographs on Facebook by tagging the Western Cape Government Health page.