KZN Health MEC congratulates: RK Khan Hospital's medical and nursing staff for "Diligence and going the extra mile" to save pre-term "miracle baby" facing severe health risks and heroic off-duty RK Khan hospital nurse who helped a homeless woman deliver a baby on Florence Nightingale rd in a separate incident

29 May 2022

KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has congratulated the doctors and nurses at RK Khan Hospital for going all-out to save the life of a prematurely born neonate who entered the world at six months (25 - 26 weeks), weighing just 685g.

Generally, babies born at such an early age have a compromised chance of survival as they are particularly fragile, with lungs that are under-developed, making it difficult for them to get enough oxygen. They are also prone to infections, asthma, feeding problems, neurological disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, and eye-related ailments, among others.

But so far the baby, who has been named Khantso (She who brings light) and Ntandoyenkosi (God's will), is thriving.

Although she remains a neonate at high risk for complications, she has shown signs of good neurological and all-round development.

And the baby's 23 year-old mother Ms Londiwe Dlomo - who has had two previously unsuccessful pregnancies - has nothing but praise and words of sincere gratitude for the staff of RK Khan Hospital and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health for saving her daughter's life.

Recounting how the baby was managed over a 63-day stay in neonatal ward, from admission on 15 March until her discharge on 20 May 2022, now weighing 1800g, RK Khan CEO Dr Linda Sobekwa said:

"The baby's mother had attended 6 ante-natal visits. Her baby was born prematurely on the 16th of March and was stabilised in the labour ward and admitted to the neonatal unit immediately after birth. She was provided with oxygen, warmth in an incubator, and intravenous fluids through a central umbilical vein. A number of other principles of management of extremely low birthweight babies were adhered to during admission to ensure survival."

These special precautionary interventions included:

  • The administering of steroids to fast-track lung development, which was not very effective, as birth was imminent;
  • Delayed cord clamping at birth, to maintain stable blood flow and delay anaemia;
  • Intravenous nutritional support;
  • Antifungal prophylaxis to prevent invasive fungal infections which premature neonates are susceptible to;
  • Conducting a series of scans to monitor bleeding;
  • Intermittent Kangaroo Mother Care, especially during feeding periods to prevent gastro oesophageal reflux and lung infections;
  • Meticulous management of fluid balance, including appropriate intravenous electrolyte solutions;
  • Post-natal low dose steroids to assist with prevention and management of lung problems; and
  • Early initiation of nutrition with maternal expressed breast milk from the hospital's milk bank, to avoid any use of formula feeds, thus preventing complications of the digestive system.

Dr Sobekwa said: "While there are possibly many more neonates like baby Dlomo at other institutions with such inspiring endings, this is the smallest birthweight neonate to have survived all the complications of severe prematurity at RK Khan Hospital with such a promising outcome. As an institution, we are looking forward to monitoring her and providing timely interventions to optimise the growth and development of the baby."

Khantso will be monitored weekly at her local clinic until a weight of 2500g is reached, and is due to return to RK Khan Hospital's Paediatric Outpatient Department.

She has also been given an appointment for the specialist neonatal follow-up clinic on 28 July 2022 at RK Khan POPD; and will be screened weekly at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital's Ophthalmology Department, in anticipation of eye-related problems associated with prematurity, so that there's early intervention.

Love and support from the paediatric team, both nurses and doctors, has played a significant role in giving hope and confidence to a mother with two previously unsuccessful pregnancies, followed by the unexpected birth of the severely immature baby.

Speaking from her home in Welbedacht near Chatsworth Ms Dlomo, who is a machinist, said: "I'm very pleased with the way I've been treated. The way they attended to my baby...I'm quite satisfied. I appreciate it a lot.

Sometimes, things would get difficult and I'd start panicking. But they've always been there to assure me that everything would be okay. If I had been alone, there are many things that I wouldn’t have known...and situations that I wouldn't have been able to handle. This includes how to take care of the baby. But with their support I'm now confident of what to do, and what to avoid."

Ms Dlomo has been offered psychological support in case she feels overwhelmed; and has also been referred to RK Khan's obstetric team for further clinical assistance with potential future pregnancy.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident on Wednesday, a 64 year-old off-duty RK Khan Hospital midwife responded positively, without hesitation, when concerned members of the community informed her about a homeless woman who was about to give birth on the side of the road in Chatworth.

Ms Gonum Govender had just got home after knocking off from work when the news came. Still in her nurse's uniform, she dropped her bag and rushed to the scene - on Florence Nightingale Rd - where members of the community had already secured surgical gloves, towels, a sheet for the mother, as well as a blanket for the baby.

The midwife, who is due to retire next year, used a pair of scissors supplied by the local community to cut the umbilical cord. The baby was eventually rushed to RK Khan Hospital for further care by another nurse who works at a private hospital.

Reacting to these heart-warming developments, KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane wished mother and baby well, and said the staff and management at RK Khan Hospital deserved a pat on the back. She also thanked the residents who helped rally support for the woman who was stranded and needed to go into labour.

MEC Simelane said: "These are very encouraging and inspiring about our "Miracle Baby", as well as the off-duty nurse who assisted a woman who was going into labour. The courageous manner in which these situations have been handled restores faith in our public health facilities, and the calibre of our staff.

It underscores the fact that, despite the pressure that our healthcare facilities face on a daily basis, the vast majority of our healthcare workers are hardworking and dedicated people, who are prepared to go the extra mile to save lives and provide care to our fellow compatriots.

"Had that not been the case, they would have looked at the dire circumstances involved in these cases and simply given up. But instead, they remained positive, and went all-out and did everything possible to save these precious little lives. We congratulate and thank the whole team involved in the case of our Miracle Baby, Ms Govender, as well as the management of RK Khan Hospital, as well as the members of the community. We wish these babies and their mothers everything of the best. We're pleased that there's a comprehensive plan in place to support them going forward."

ENDS Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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