Miracle baby born at 25 weeks parents celebrate his first birthday by signing up to London Marathon

16 November 2020

When baby Buddy was born he weighed the same as a loaf of bread. But thanks to the life-saving care of Evelina London’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Buddy got to celebrate his first birthday last month.

Buddy, celebrating his birthday with parents Paul and Rachel
Buddy, celebrating his birthday with parents Paul and Rachel

Buddy’s story

Expectant parents Rachel and Paul had been enjoying a routine pregnancy. But everything changed when Rachel caught a virus and had to be rushed to their local hospital when she was just 24 weeks and six days pregnant.

“It was a complete shock,” recalls Paul. “Up until that point we were enjoying a low-risk pregnancy and were about to start hypnobirthing.”

After being thrown from contemplating birthing plans to rushing to the emergency room, unborn baby Buddy’s life hung in the balance.

Doctors injected Rachel with steroids to speed up the development of Buddy’s lungs. Then Rachel was transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital, which is on the same site as Evelina London, for specialist care that would give Buddy the best chance of survival.

“When she was 25 weeks and three days pregnant, she had an emergency caesarean. We played Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ as Buddy was delivered,” says Paul.

“It was an extremely emotional time. At that point we didn’t know if he would survive.”

Buddy was born weighing just 1lbs 13, or 840 grams, which is roughly the same as a small loaf of bread.

After his birth, Buddy was transferred to Evelina London’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he stayed for three months for specialist lifesaving care.

Because he was born so prematurely, Buddy’s lungs hadn’t had a chance to develop properly in the womb. Thankfully Buddy’s breathing difficulties improved on their own without needing any surgery. When he was about a month old, Rachel and Paul celebrated Buddy coming off his ventilator.

“The care Buddy received was absolutely phenomenal,” says Paul. “We felt supported and looked after by everyone involved in his care. We can’t thank the team at Evelina London enough. We owe Buddy’s life to them.”

“We spent Christmas day with Buddy in hospital. The staff went above and beyond to make it special. Santa came to visit Buddy and he received lots of presents and cards. It was a really memorable day."

Under the care of the NICU team, Buddy went from strength to strength. After being transferred to his local hospital, Buddy was discharged home in January.

He celebrated his first birthday on Friday 16th October with his parents and grandparents. He is developing well and continues to be monitored by Evelina London.

Giving back to Evelina London

Being able to take their son home and resume their normal lives is a dream come true for Paul and Rachel.

“Buddy is doing really well, and he continues to amaze us by how far he has come,” says Paul. “He is a boisterous little boy who loves cuddles, Peppa Pig and books and keeps us very busy just like a normal healthy infant.”

“When I look back to this time last year on October 16th when we were told Rachel had to have emergency surgery, I was convinced I would never get to take my son home,” added Paul. “To have him here with us celebrating his birthday feels like a miracle.”

Having seen how hard the team at Evelina London worked to save his son’s life, Paul decided to run the London Marathon to say thank you.

“Taking part in the London Marathon is my way of saying a big thank you to the fantastic teams who looked after Buddy,” he says. “As well as looking after babies who all have various serious conditions, they find time to care for the parents, which helped us come to terms with our new life.”

Although he has had to defer his place until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paul is looking forward to raising money that will help the hospital look after other families going through similar experiences.

“We’re absolutely delighted that Buddy is doing well and Paul has chosen to raise vital funds for us,” says Dr Hammad Khan, a consultant neonatologist at Evelina London. “We have specialist teams who provide 24-hour care helping premature and sick babies with their breathing, feeding and keeping them warm. We care for more than 1,000 babies a year and we are very proud to have some of the best survival rates in the country.”

Help Evelina London deliver lifesaving care to more children and young people like Buddy who need their specialist support. Donate today.

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