World Prematurity Day is celebrated each year, recognising the remarkable journey of some of our smallest patients. This year, Mediclinic Legae celebrates the progress of Little Dumisani Msimanga who spent 95 days in our neo-natal intensive care (NICU).

Mediclinic Legae offers an eight bed NICU and baby Msimanga was one of the most recent patients to receive care. When he was born at just 28 weeks, Dumisani had a very low birth weight of 700g and was ventilated by oscillation.

Premature babies are prone to a number of complications in their early days such as infections due to immature immune system, underdeveloped body systems and it is vital that these little babies are protected in a specialised environment, and be allowed to grow and develop until they have a stronger chance of survival. This is the role of the talented NICU team.

Babies such as Dumisani will also receive kangaroo care to promote bonding, where parents are encouraged to hold baby skin-to-skin for periods during the day to encourage the bond between baby and mother or father. This also assists with thermoregulation (heat transfer from mother), promoting easy transition from intra uterine-to-extra uterine environment as well as promoting production of breast milk by let-down reflex. Other benefits include building self-confidence from the parents side.

In many cases, having a baby in NICU can lead to unexpected challenges for the parents such as the reality of a long term hospitalisation, daily traveling of the mother to the hospital, the emotional toll of the admission, as well as the potential financial impact for the family. In many of these cases, the NICU team are on hand to provide advice, lend support and to encourage parents along the journey with the newborn baby.  

Experienced staff working in NICU also recognise the psychosocial challenges that having a premature baby can bring and work with the parents to assist where possible on aspects such as milk production or bonding.

Little Dumisani arrived during the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing additional challenges where the caring nursing team were able to identify the key challenges and find routes to assist.  After 95 days, on 15 August 2020, the Mediclinic Legae management,  NNICU team, Unit Manager, Paediatrician Dr J.N Mathibedi all took pride in a celebratory send off of baby Msimanga’s discharge weighing an impressive 1760 grams.