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Baby Sive McDonald was born at just 420g, less than one pound, when she arrived 16 weeks premature. Ireland’s smallest baby is now thriving at home with her parents.
When she was born Sive was smaller than her father’s out-stretched hand, about six inches tall.
Her parents Aisling McDonald (32), from Mullingar, Co Westmeath; and her husband, John McDonald (30), from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow were looking forward to the birth of their first child when Sive surprised them by arriving 16 weeks early.
Aisling suffered from pre-eclampsia and her medical team had fought with her high blood pressure during her pregnancy.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, John said “It all happened really quick. We were brought from St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny to Waterford Regional Hospital where there is a special baby unit…They were giving us no hope, to be honest. They gave us a room to stay in by ourselves and were really supportive. There was a priest there all the time and we were facing the worst-case scenario."
When Sive was born her parents admitted that they were naive. John said “We thought she'd be three or four pounds. But we didn't realize she'd be less than a pound, and the dangers if her limbs weren't formed properly. We were told babies don't survive outside the womb unless they are more than 24 weeks. Sive was 23 weeks and five days."
Sive was so small that her pediatrician, Dr Paul McMahon, had to order special glasses from the U.S. so he could see her tiny veins.
John said “At one stage, the doctor was trying to get food into her but her veins were so small. Every time they'd get a needle in, the vein was bursting, it wasn't strong enough. She hadn't been fed at one stage for five, six, seven hours. Dr McMahon finally got a vein and she was able to feed.”
After 24 blood transfusions and despite all the odds Sive never gave up.
“We still can't believe it. We brought her home to Kilkenny a month before Christmas and she is 9lb 6oz now. She's the equivalent of two months old. Her eyes are perfect, her ears are clear and she's responsive for two months," said John.