Sister Lucky Masemula nursing the smallest premature baby -560g - at Louis Pasteur Hospital in the city during World Premature Day commemoration on Friday.Picture: Bongani Shilubane/ANA
THE Louis Pasteur Hospital in the city celebrated the premature lives it had saved over the years during World Premature Day on Friday.

The hospital’s neonatal Intensive Care Unit staff members celebrated the day with preemies and their parents.

They said the day was for their little champions, Earth angels and the “one in a million” babies.

Jokingly, they referred to them as “mafa-vuka” (children rising from the dead).

Paediatrician at the hospital Dr Malusi Dibote explained that premature babies were born before 38 weeks.

He said if the baby was born before term it meant they would have immaturity of almost every system, from head to toe.

However, he said it depended on the severity of prematurity.

Dibote said children were born prematurely due to different reasons such the mother having pregnancy complications.

“Conditions such as cervical incompetence where a woman’s cervix opens before the pregnancy has reached its term, and infections are some of the things among other reasons that can cause premature birth,” he said.

Due to the hard long months for parents, preemies and their parents all gathered at the hospital and gave testimonies of their breakthroughs and the journey they had gone through.

One of those who gave testimony was 21-year-old Malibongwe Seroba, one of the first premature babies born at the hospital.

He is the survivor of triplet babies born at only 27 weeks in 1996.

Seroba explained that during his mother’s pregnancy, doctors thought she was pregnant with twins only to find,during labour, there was a third child.

He said this was due to the second child being excluded from the womb that doctors only saw two children and not three.

Due to a lot of medical complications his two brothers did not survive.

Seroba weighed 905g while the normal baby weight for a newborn is 2.5kg

“I was so small I could literally fit in my mother’s palm.

“Because I was prematurely born, I stayed for 100 days in hospital, and due to many months of ventilation I developed a number of illnesses,” he said.

He told those present that he had developed type 1 tuberculosis and had nine months' treatment for that, and also had epileptic attacks which he endured for six years of his life.

But against the odds, he made it and was now studying towards his diploma in roads and transport management at the University of Johannesburg.

He said he had a quote which he lived by daily: “My greatest competition is myself, so I always strive to be the best against all odds and giving up is not an option.

“So to all parents, having a premature child is the best blessing God can ever give you,” he said.

Though most mothers said they felt punished when they gave birth to preemies, they were now thankful for their little angels and could not wish for anyone but their premature babies.

They also boasted about their children being the cleverest at school.