Baby born weighing less than a bag of sugar released from UAE NICU after five months

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A baby boy who was born 17 weeks early weighing just 600 grams (1.3lbs) – less than a small bag of sugar – has been discharged from a hospital in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi after 160 days in intensive care.

Adel was born on March 20 by what the doctors at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children in Abu Dhabi described as a spontaneous delivery. He was immediately admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where he stayed for five months.


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During his stay, Adel received underwent two surgical procedures.

At discharge from hospital, the baby weighed 3.88 kilograms and was in good health.

Dr. Duaa al-Masri, neonatology consultant and one of the neonatologists who provided care for Adel, described it as a “very rare case,” saying the survival rates for children born at week 23 of pregnancy is between 10-30 percent.

“However, we held on to hope,” the doctor said. “He was admitted to the NICU right away and we’ve conducted a series of urgent medical procedures to preserve his life, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and he was placed on a mechanical ventilator and fed with intravenous nutrition.”

However, the parents would be faced with further distress. Just 11 days after his birth, Adel needed surgical intervention because there was a hole in his small intestine, and his condition wasn’t improving despite treatment with antibiotics and medication.

A surgery was performed to remove parts of the damaged intestine, and to create an opening at the beginning of the small intestine to change the path of food to the outside to give time for the rest of intestine to heal and at the same time to prepare Adel for the second corrective surgery.

Two months later, the pediatric surgical team performed the second surgery to close the hole and correct the position of the intestines to normal.

Al-Masri indicated that the child’s condition began to gradually improve.

“He stayed with us for 160 days and was recently allowed to leave the hospital,” the doctor said.

“He visited us with his family few days ago. We were so happy to see him well and healthy, thanks to Allah. As per our protocols at Danat Al Emarat, preemies are discharged from the NICU after receiving the necessary treatment, only if the child weighs at least 1.8 kilograms, and had completed 35 weeks in terms of the number of weeks of pregnancy."

Adel was born on March 20 at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children in Abu Dhabi at 23 weeks. (Screengrab)
Adel was born on March 20 at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children in Abu Dhabi at 23 weeks. (Screengrab)

We also ensure that the baby is able to breastfeed or drink milk, and that all his vital signs are stable. In terms of how long the baby stays in NICU, it also depends on the health condition of the baby after birth."

"The earlier the baby is born, the longer the period of his stay in NICU, which can extend from one month to six months in some cases and sometimes longer.”

Samer Abu Snaineh, the father of baby Adel, expressed his gratitude upon the discharge of his child from the hospital and taking him home after 160 days.

“We are so happy to be back home with Adel. Seeing my wife hold him is truly the best reward ever. The past period wasn’t easy on us both.”

“We used to visit the NICU on daily basis few times. We were unable to be apart from Adel, and we built a special bond with the NICU team. They all were family to us. They know what parents go through in cases as such.”

“We are thankful to everyone, particularly the medical and nursing team at the NICU, the pediatric surgeons, the physiotherapists, the ophthalmologists, and everyone who cared for our son and drew a smile on our faces. We were extremely lucky to have chosen Danat Al Emarat for his birth and through his stay at the NICU.”

Dr. Mohaymen Abdelghany, CEO of Danat Al Emarat Hospital, said the medical unit has only dealt with about 130 premature babies that were born before completing 27 weeks of gestation in the past five.

Adel was born on March 20 at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children in Abu Dhabi at 23 weeks. (Screengrab)
Adel was born on March 20 at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children in Abu Dhabi at 23 weeks. (Screengrab)

Adel was the youngest.

Since the hospital opening in October 2015, over 26,000 babies were born at the hospital.

With the complexity of cases we see, having obstetrics, fetal medicine, neonatology, pediatric surgery, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, ophthalmology and pediatric cardiology all under one roof makes us a regional referral center for high-risk pregnancies including rare cases, sick newborns, premature babies and those needing pediatric surgical intervention.

According to the hospital statistics, 10 - 15 percent of the hospital’s deliveries require admission to the NICU either because of different illnesses or because they were born premature before the 35th week of pregnancy.

Abdelghany added. “These babies are extremely small, fragile, and their skin is too delicate, seeing them discharged all grown up and healthy is truly rewarding.”

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