Siphesihle Lambatha is less than three months old but has already proven herself to be a little fighter.
After spending 83 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Melomed Hospital in Gatesville, Athlone, the infant who weighed only 410g at birth this week finally got to go home.
The tiny patient’s paediatrician, Dr Shukri Raban, said Siphesihle was one of the 10 smallest babies born in South Africa.
“410g, put into context, is not much bigger than a tub of margarine,” he said. “Lengthwise, she was not much taller than a half a ruler – less than 15cm.”
On the day she was discharged, her proud mother Yandisa Ngele Lambatha took home a 1.84kg baby girl.
Yandisa had gone into labour at 26 weeks – about six months into her pregnancy – and was at the hospital every day since Siphesihle’s birth on 26 July.
“I am happy to be going home with her. The first time I saw her from the theatre, I thought this one was not going to be alive,” she recalled in a recorded interview with the hospital.
Her older daughter was also tiny at birth, weighing only 500g. Before her daughters’ births, she had had three miscarriages.
“I didn’t think that [Siphesihle] would make it. But now I am happy – she is here.”
Dad Ntandazo Lambatha said he had prayed for his beautiful daughter every day, thanking the doctors, staff and family for their support.
Raban praised the mom of two, saying Siphesihle’s discharge is “more a celebration of [Yandisa’s] feat – not just once, but twice”.
“To do this twice over is an arduous task and she fulfilled it with absolute aplomb,” he said.
Raban was hopeful that Siphesihle would develop well, just like her big sister Sindie.
“We are very chuffed, not so much at the role that we played, but the honour we had in seeing how she developed, and how she has progressed to the point where she is now.”
Upon being discharged on Thursday, Siphesihle received a “certificate of bravery” from the hospital, handed to her at a mini-graduation ceremony with her parents.
– Compiled by Tammy Petersen