Christmas Appeal 2021

Imagine you’re carrying a precious new life within you.
Then a routine checkup shows your baby is not growing as he should. Not enough blood is flowing from the placenta to this tiny new life. And the heartbeat is weak.

The doctor says you must deliver the child now, even though your baby is not yet big enough to survive outside the womb without a breathing machine.

This is Silvia’s story. At 26 weeks and five days, doctors perform an emergency caesarean on her. When her son Svenson is born, during one of Victoria’s COVID lockdowns, he weighs just 546 grams. At such a low birthweight—the average is 3.6kg—his chances of survival are slim.

That’s why the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is so vital. And why I’m asking for your help today.

Your gift will go towards life-saving ventilators to give sick and premature babies like Svenson the best chance of survival!

As soon as Svenson is born, there’s no time for mum and baby cuddles or skin-on-skin touch. He’s rushed into NICU.

In NICU, the caring doctors and nurses from Mercy Health work with little Svenson. His little lungs are not yet developed enough for him to breathe on his own. So they insert a breathing tube and connect him to a ventilator.

More of these ventilators are needed for newborns like Svenson… will you please help save more babies today?

Because did you know preterm labour is a major cause of neonatal deaths all over the world? And that of the nearly 6,000 births at Mercy Health last year, over 30% required time in NICU or special care with our dedicated neonatal nurses?

In NICU, the breathing tube keeps Silvia’s little fighter going. On day 5 after he’s born, Silvia gets to cuddle her beautiful, but very tiny, son for the first time.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, his dad, Shawn, has to wait until day 9 for his first cuddle. That’s the same day Svenson is moved onto CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). This machine makes it easier for Svenson’s lungs to inflate. Silvia says:

“He opened his eyes about 3-4 weeks after he was born. When we would try to talk to him… he would look up to our face or chin… that’s how much he can see of us because we are wearing the masks… So, he would look up at us and wave his hand.”

The lives of babies like Svenson are at stake.

Your gift helps to buy new life-saving equipment. You’ll help sick and premature babies like Svenson – who might not survive without a ventilator!

Now as we approach Christmas many celebrate the birth of another baby – Jesus! It’s a time of joy, celebration and family. I urge you to please remember the tiniest babies right here at Mercy Health. To celebrate their safe arrival…and to thank the NICU staff for the wonderful care they receive as they fight for life.

Now your urgent support is needed for more ventilators to help other babies like Svenson. Tess, one of the amazing nurses caring for Svenson, says:

“Svenson wouldn’t have survived if he hadn’t had intensive care. Like most premature babies in developing countries, he wouldn’t have survived…

“NICU was essential for him. He was lucky to be born at the Mercy Hospital for Women where we have intensive care. Definitely, he had a better chance than premature babies born at hospitals that don’t have a neonatal ICU…where the only choice is have to transfer them…risking their survival…he was lucky to be in the right place.”

Svenson now gets up to two cuddles a day from his parents. He’s gaining 50 grams a month and doing very well.

“He’s grown from 546 grams to almost 1.4 kilos. So he’s nearly tripled his weight and has got little chubby cheeks now. He’s definitely getting more personality and a bit cheekier.”

When Svenson’s lungs can cope, he’ll be moved off the ventilator but monitoring will continue.

Tess says “hopefully, he will be starting to do some suck feeds soon… he’s reaching the stage where you can see the future of bringing him home and starting to do baths and bottles… NICU’s such a difficult environment to parent in… but Sylvia and Shawn, are so sweet and gentle with him.”

It used to be the case that most babies like Svenson didn’t survive. A sick or premature child’s lungs just aren’t developed enough for them to breathe until they reach full term.

But now more than 9 out of 10 premature babies survive. Most go on to develop normally.

All thanks to medical technology like life-saving ventilators. Plus the wonderful staff at Mercy Health who provide such compassionate care to parents who don’t know if their child will live or die. And thanks to supporters like you who are so generous.

Your gift is needed to save babies’ lives!

Last reviewed November 5, 2021.