Sandwich bag baby Allegra turns one

South Africa

Little Allegra Lategan, the baby who spent her first few days of life tucked away in a plastic sandwich bag, celebrates her first birthday today.

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Baby Allegra was born prematurely at 22 weeks and 4 days at the Blaauwberg Mediclinic.  Picture: Cindy Waxa.Cape Town 120728 Allegra Lategan, who was born 22 weeks premature weighing only 500g, turns one today (Sunday 29/7). She is pictured here at her birthday party in Parow with her mother Chantal Lategan. Picture: Gareth Smit for Weekend

Delivered by Caesarean section on July 29 last year, at just 22 weeks and four days, Allegra weighed a mere 515 grams.

Because her skin was paper-thin, doctors at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital decided to keep her in a plastic bag for the first few days in an effort to keep her body moisturised.

But yesterday that was all just a memory as Allegra and proud parents Hennie and Chantal Lategan enjoyed her first birthday bash.

“Today we are amazed she is getting so big, and she’s only just discovered she has toes – another milestone she has reached,” her pre-school teacher mother told Weekend Argus.

“You would never know the journey we’ve been through. It’s been hard, very hard… but together with the support of our family and friends, we’ve managed to overcome a lot.”

Hennie said that when their baby was born so prematurely they didn’t believe this day would come.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. But nothing beats the feeling I get when I look into her big bright eyes. She can brighten up anyone’s day.”

He added: “When I saw her for the first time, she was so small… our little miracle, she’s just a perfect little girl.”

While Allegra’s chances of survival were initially slim, today there’s no sign of the danger and potentially catastrophic complications that accompanied her birth.

The little fighter looks like any healthy and happy 12-month-old. But, of course, the truth is that unlike other one-year-olds, she’s been in and out of hospital all her short life.

Now weighing a healthy 6.2kg, she still has medical problems. She was recently diagnosed with auditory neuropathy, and needs a cochlear implant, which will cost the family R700 000.

Her parents say they are coping well, although they admit trying to raise funds for the implant is stressful.

They already have several fundraising initiatives under way, and have started a Facebook page in their daughter’s name as they hope she’ll get the implant that will help her live a normal life. - Weekend Argus

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