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Abigail goes home at long last; Birthweight was just 1lb 4oz.

Byline: Kerry Wood ? 0191 201 6040 ?

ONE of the smallest babies ever born in the North East has finally made it home after nearly nine months in hospital.

Abigail Wardle was given little chance of survival when she was born at 25 weeks into her mother's pregnancy weighing just 1lb 4oz.

She had to undergo heart surgery at just three weeks old and has since faced a catalogue of medical problems with her eyes, ears and lungs.

But now she has finally got home to Wallsend and no longer has to rely on the oxygen tanks that she has had to use since birth.

Her mother Valerie, 34, said: "Abigail was only 1lb 4oz when she was born. She was so tiny and brittle you could see through her skin. At one point rather than give her an X-ray to look at her bowels they shone a special torch onto her back and you could see the beam on the ceiling.

"To get where we are now, with her ears and eyes all fine, we are so very lucky and hope to give other families hope that you can have a child born so small and fragile and they can be OK. She is truly amazing and has faced so much already in her young life."

Dr Hari Gopal, Abigail's consultant at the RVI's special care baby unit, said any baby born below 1kg (2.2lb) is considered at risk and a low birthweight baby. He said: "While it varies from baby to baby, the survival of a baby born at 25 weeks is about 60% and here at the RVI we have a very good survival rate.

However, Abigail was extremely small at 560g. When newborns are close to 500g we would be telling parents 'your baby is extremely small and very sick and has a long way to go'. Considering her small birthweight Abigail is doing very well and has no major complications."

At just 20 weeks' pregnant a routine check-up for Valerie escalated into the terrifying possibility she'd need to give birth to her baby at 22 weeks, two weeks under the legal abortion limit. Sent home with medication to lower her blood pressure, the children's nurse woke up on her birthday feeling ill. Valerie, who lives in Wallsend with husband Thomas, 42, and their children Ryan, 17, Chandler, 12, Grace, seven and Justin, six, said: "I rang the RVI's assessment unit and they advised I go in for a check-up. Thomas came with me but had to leave for the school run.

"I went in for a scan and was told 'sorry, but your placenta isn't working and we are going to have to deliver your baby.' I was devastated and terrified. It was so completely unexpected and I faced the possibility they'd have to deliver my baby at nearly 23 weeks that day."

Valerie was kept on the pre-natal ward for three weeks as medics tried to bring down her blood pressure. With hospitals under no obligation to resuscitate babies born under 24 weeks, Valerie and Thomas were asked if they'd want doctors to step in. But when Valerie got dizzy and lost the feeling in her arms the couple were told her condition, pre-eclampsia, was putting her life at risk.

Valerie said: "The support and treatment we had from staff at the unit was fabulous. You hear about Tiny Lives but until you need their help you don't realise just how much good they do."

A sponsored eight-hour bounce for Tiny Lives is being held at the Mauretania pub in Denbigh Avenue, Howdon, North Tyneside, noon-8pm on November 3. To donate visit


MY, HOW SHE'S GROWN Tiny Abigail Wardle who was born 14 weeks early, inset, but is now home and doing well with her mum Valerie
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 27, 2012
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