SA's little 'Wonder Woman' weighed 395 grams at birth

Jazeel in the Wonder Woman costume made for her by nurses. Image: NETCARE
Jazeel in the Wonder Woman costume made for her by nurses. Image: NETCARE

 When she was born near Johannesburg‚ tiny Jazeel Hlope weighed less than a jar of peanut butter – just 395 grams.

Regarded as a “micro-premature” baby‚ the little fighter has defied the odds and grown stronger after being nurtured in hospital for nearly 150 days. Now she is getting ready to go home.

Jazeel was born at 25 weeks‚ three months before she was due because of pregnancy-induced hypertension experienced by her mother‚ Helen Sauls.

“I am very excited about the prospect of taking my baby home‚ but obviously we do not want to rush. She has been in hospital for nearly 150 days and has gained a lot of weight and strength in that time. Jazeel now weighs just over 2.2kg and now drinks the whole bottle when I feed her‚” said Sauls.

Micro-premature baby Jazeel Hlope. Image: NETCARE
Micro-premature baby Jazeel Hlope. Image: NETCARE

Neonatologist Dr Klaas Mnisi said Jazeel’s prospects of survival were boosted by the fact that female micro-premature babies had a higher survival rate than male micro-premature babies.

“Baby Jazeel was born extremely prematurely on 21 June this year‚ three months ahead of her anticipated due date of 3 October‚” said Mnisi.

“There is still some debate as to whether babies born at a gestational age of between 23 and 25 weeks have a reasonable prospect of survival. However‚ when you see how well Jazeel is doing‚ it is most encouraging. These days micro-premature babies have a better chance of surviving‚ and Jazeel is now thriving – she is one of the miracles who show us what is possible‚” said Dr Mnisi.

Jazeel’s gut was immature after birth‚ meaning she had to be fed a special diet of colostrum – a highly nutritious substance produced by mothers after birth – to prepare her for future feeding.

Dr Mnisi and a growing baby Jazeel. Image: NETCARE
Dr Mnisi and a growing baby Jazeel. Image: NETCARE

Although Sauls is thrilled to finally bring home her bundle of joy‚ staff at the Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton – which released details about her birth in a statement on Wednesday — are sad to say goodbye to the baby they have dubbed “Wonder Woman”.

“We have never had such a small baby in our unit and we were all most concerned about her. She has proven to be a little ‘Wonder Woman’ and is growing each day‚ with lots of tender loving care from her mother‚” said Sr Anina Klut‚ a shift leader at the neonatal intensive care unit.

Nurses made her a miniature “Wonder Woman” super heroine costume with the words “Littlest Miracle”.

Jazeel weighed even less than little Allegra Lategan who was born at 22 weeks weighing 515 grams in 2011.

Allegra Lategan spent her first three days after birth in a plastic sandwich bag to ensure that her fragile skin remained intact. At the time‚ Allegra was one of the country’s youngest surviving premature babies.

She was delivered in Cape Town by neonatologist Ricky Dippenaar.

Jazeel is expected to be discharged soon after World Prematurity Day‚ on November 17.

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