Joy as 400g baby Jeremy Tubula gains kilos

Wednesday March 18 2020

On April 1 Catherine Joy Nkune started spotting blood. "But it was too soon to the estimated delivery date," she thought.

A call to the gynaecologist managing her however would prove that the bouncing baby boy's time was nigh.

And so, Catherine embarked on the journey to Kenyatta National Hospital, having heeded her doctor's advice to check in immediately.

Like she would later find out, her son was ready to be cradled, four months earlier than her due date. But there was a problem, as little Jeremy Tubula was born too prematurely weigh a measly 400 grammes, just as heavy as a loaf bread.

On Wednesday, the young mother walked out of KNH with her third born baby weighing 3.5 kilos, having defied many odds to gain as much as nine times his initial weight.

Today I can hold him without any fear like before. I didn't know whether I would find him alive or dead," she narrated.


The feat was marked by KNH as a milestone, as the facility's chief executive Dr Evanson Kamuri said that baby Jeremy was only other baby to have been born with such a low birth weight.

Baby Jeremy becomes the second baby born at KNH weighing 400g, coming after Baby Hope Obonyo who was born with a similar weight eight years ago.

He born at five-and-a-half months (24 weeks), on April 1 has been at the hospital for the last five months.

"We are proud of the specialised level of care especially to newborn babies we guarantee an up to date status. We want to encourage mothers to adhere to antenatal clinic check up to help reduce maternal and child mortality," said Dr Kamuri.

Premature birth contributes to more than a quarter of deaths in newborns as key child health indicators show that Kenya still fails to achieve most of the interventions recommended by the World Health Organisation to improve preterm birth outcomes.

Preterm births are deliveries that occur before the full pregnancy period of 37 weeks, and in most cases, the babies also weigh less than 2.5kg.

It has many causes that include having a baby before age 20 or after 35, having closely spaced pregnancies of less than two years and physical stress, severe anaemia, drug and substance abuse, foetal infection and multiple pregnancies (twins or more). Out of the 1.5 million babies born in Kenya annually, around 134,000 come too soon, according to the Ministry of Health's Division of Family Health.

Globally, the WHO estimates that each year one in 15 (15 million) babies is born too early or dies due to prematurity-related complications. Prematurity is also the leading cause of death among children under five worldwide. According to the March of Dimes, Kenya is among the 15 countries that account for two-thirds of the world's preterm births.

In Catherine Nkune's case sudden spotting of blood one Sunday afternoon and the decision to follow her doctor's advice determined the outcome of the baby. Being already a mother of the two, her chances of giving birth to a healthy baby or not was a 50-50 chance.

"At week 22, she called me saying that she was bleeding. I immediately told her to go to the hospital where we monitored her for two weeks. During this time, we administered some injectable drugs to help the baby's lungs grow," explained Dr Barbara Magoha, Catherine's obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Hospital scans showed that the placenta a vital organ that develops during pregnancy to provide oxygen and nutrition to- and removing wastes from the baby was detaching, causing the bleeding.

"We were not sure where the bleeding was coming from only to realise that the placenta was separating hence the bleeding after conducting a scan," added Dr Magoha.

At 24 weeks Dr Magoha added, majority of the internal organs are developed enough.

"We however needed to hasten the maturation of lungs through injections."

Dr Miriam Karanja, a neonatologist who was the led doctor that has been taking care of Baby Jeremy since he was born, said the baby still requires special care.

"Baby Jeremy required very special care as his immunity was low and couldn't keep temperatures" Dr Karanja said.

An elated Catherine could not hide her joy thanking the hospital and the team of doctors who took care of her son.

"At first I screamed because I couldn't recognise my baby but the doctor reassured me that he would grow."