Premature babies remembered

Premature babies require a lot of special attention and care.

24 November 2021 | Health

Dr Sebastian Gericke; Pediatrician; “We are creating awareness,”

Swakopmund • [email protected]

World Prematurity Day was established in 2011 and is celebrated on 17 November every year to raise awareness about the millions of children who are born prematurely.

Mediclinic in Swakopmund celebrated the day with premature babies and mothers who shared stories about their babies blossoming after they were born early at the medical facility. Fifteen babies were born prematurely at Mediclinic in 2021.

Salome Tjongarero took her first breath at 26 weeks and weighed only 960g when she was born in July 1997. She is one of the first premature babies to be born at Mediclinic, which was known as Cottage Hospital at the time. Salome’s mother Amalia Sheehama, referred to her as a miracle baby. “She’s all grown now. I was scared by her tininess at birth. I was afraid that I might lose her and did not want to get attached to her. The doctors gave me hope.”

Hospital manager Peter Sander said that there have been constant improvements at the facility’s maternity section. “More pediatricians also joined us. There is a higher risk of complications when giving birth prematurely compared to a normal birth.”

Dr Sebastian Gericke, a pediatrician at the hospital, said that the day was all about celebrating prematurely born children who survived, developed well and are leading healthy lives. Gericke said that premature babies require a lot of additional care and resources. “We are always in need of milk donors. It takes a dedicated mother with a passion for breastfeeding to do so. We also have a screening program for blood tests, to make sure the milk is suitable for drinking.”

Chrizelle Aner Lewenchik, one of the breastmilk donors, said that new mothers often struggle to breast feed, even more so with premature babies. “This motivated me to become a breast milk donor. Breast milk is healthy and the best for growth.”