Premature baby defies odds after being born at just 22 weeks

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·4-min read
Charvi Matthews weighed just 14oz - less than a loaf of bread - when she arrived more than three months early. (SWNS)
Charvi Matthews weighed just 14oz - less than a loaf of bread - when she arrived more than three months early. (SWNS)

One of Britain's most premature babies has survived after being born at just 22 weeks and one day and weighing less than 1lb.

Charvi Matthews weighed just 14oz – less than a loaf of bread – when she arrived more than three months early.

Parents Millisa Matthews and Daniel Golding, both 39, were told there was little chance their daughter would survive.

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Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are considered premature while those born before 24 weeks have a slim chance of survival.

When she was born at 22 weeks, Charvi was smaller than her mother's hand with skin so translucent her parents could see "every vein".

But following months of specialist care, many operations and more than 35 blood transfusions, Charvi has kept fighting to survive.

Millisa visits Charvi at St Thomas' Hospital. (SWNS)
Millisa Matthews visits Charvi at St Thomas' Hospital. (SWNS)

The baby can now breathe on her own, drink from a bottle, and even give her mother a smile.

Matthews said: "Doctors have told me she has exceeded all of their expectations – they didn't think she'd survive the first 48 hours.”

Matthews and Golding, from Greenwich in London, were expecting their fourth child to arrive on February 24.

Last October, the couple – and their three other children, Tayla, 15; Logan, eight; and Kaine, four – found out the baby was a girl at the 20-week scan.

Charvi Matthews weighed just 14oz - less than a loaf of bread - when she arrived more than three months early.
Charvi now weighs more than 6.5lbs – more than seven times her birth weight.

But days later, on 26 October, Matthews was rushed into St Thomas Hospital with severe stomach pains.

Doctors revealed she had sepsis which had sent her into early labour.

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Matthews said she was told by medics "this baby has to come out, like, right this second."

After an emergency caesarean section, Charvi was born weighing 14oz (420 grams).

Matthews said: "When I saw my baby girl, I was scared by how small she was. When doctors told me her weight, I remember thinking she weighed less than the tub of butter sat in the fridge at home."

Daniel visits Charvi at St Thomas' Hospital. (SWNS)
Dad Daniel Golding visits Charvi at St Thomas' Hospital. (SWNS)

Charvi needed to be resuscitated before being whisked off to the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) to be put on a ventilator because her lungs had not fully formed.

The family said they were told there was a 90% chance Charvi would die.

Over the coming months, she had two major operations on her stomach, more than 35 blood transfusions and several rounds of antibiotics.

"It was a terrifying time – every time I'd get a phone call from the hospital, my heart would stop and I'd have tears in my eyes because I was expecting the worst," Matthews said.

"At one point doctors told me I was prolonging the inevitable. But as bad as things got, we knew we'd never give up on her."

The couple would take it in turns to visit Charvi in the NICU every day, and two months after she was born, they were allowed to hold their daughter for the first time.

Earlier this month, Charvi was finally transferred to the neonatal high dependency unit.

Charvi Matthews weighed just 14oz - less than a loaf of bread - when she arrived more than three months early. (SWNS)
The family said they were told there was a 90% chance Charvi would die. (SWNS)

The baby now weighs more than 6.5lbs – more than seven times her birth weight – as well as being able to breathe unassisted for up to three hours a day.

Matthews said: “She’s really had to fight for her life and there were times where we were very worried. But now she’s getting stronger every day and has exceeded doctors expectations.

“There was no way I was going to give up on her, no matter how much the odds were stacked against her.

"She is the first surviving 22-weeker at St Thomas' Hospital - but it shows that it is possible," she added.

Matthews hopes to have their “miracle baby” home by her first birthday.

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