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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

'It's a miracle': Abu Dhabi hospital staff who delivered 400g baby overjoyed as she prepares to return home

Sumaya Al Menhali weighed little more than an iPad Mini when she was born

Sumaya, an Emirati girl born in Corniche Hospital, is doing well. Reem Mohammed / The National
Sumaya, an Emirati girl born in Corniche Hospital, is doing well. Reem Mohammed / The National

The UAE’s largest maternity hospital - which handles more than 8,000 births per year - has never seen a child as small as little Sumaya, since it opened in 1977.

The Emirati was born a day short of 23 weeks, weighing 440 grams, or about as much as a courgette.

Dr Hesham Tawakol, a consultant neonatologist, described her birth and recovering as a "miracle".

“I had to tell the family that the baby had less than 5 per cent chance of surviving," he said.

According to health regulations, babies born less than 460 grams and less than 23 weeks should not be resuscitated, because they have no chance of survival.

Sumaya Al Menhali was born 440 grams (0.9 lbs) and a day under 23 weeks.

“We went to the operating room sure that the baby would not survive and with no intention of resuscitating, as per the regulation," he said.

Dr Tawakol said that when he saw the baby kick her legs for a few seconds, he decided to resuscitate.

“It was just for a few seconds and I was surprised, because babies born at the age and weight don’t have the energy to kick their legs," he said.

That was the first miracle, he said.

After resuscitating her and pumping her with oxygen, Sumaya was moved to the neonatal intensive care ward.

“Babies born under these conditions almost always develop severe complications with their eyes, brain and lungs," the consultant said.

But Sumaya developed no complications, apart from requiring oxygen for her first few months in the incubator, from her birth in May, until recently.

The special unit she was treated in at Corniche Hospital hosts the 64-cot Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is the largest in the country.

“It’s a miracle,” says Dr Tawakol.

“A miracle that she survived, because almost 100 per cent of babies die during the first day after birth, and a miracle that she developed no complications."

“I myself informed the father that Sumaya had a less than 5 per cent chance of survival and look at her now. The outcome is fantastic. We have never come across such a case before,”

Sumaya today weighs 3.24kg (7 lbs) and is ready to go home to be with her family.

They have celebrated her good health and the news that she will soon leave the hospital, said Sumaya’s father, Humaid Al Menhali, who has three other children.

“All our children were born premature but no one came as early or small as Sumaya.”

One of his other children was born weighing 900 grams.

“We have a lot of faith and when my wife went into labour so early and the baby was born so small, we were sure she was going to survive and that was God’s will," he said/

He said his wife did not shed a tear.

“We are Bedouins and Bedouin women are tough. We accepted it with a broken heart,” he said of the initial news.

Even a week after her birth, Al Menhali said he wasn’t sure she would survive.

“It’s God’s wish and we couldn’t be happier, “ he said.