Celebrating ahead of World Prematurity Day

Groote Schuur Hospital CEO Dr Bhavna Patel and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

The Newborns Groote Schuur Trust and Little Optimist Trust teamed up on Tuesday night to host an evening of inspiration and celebration for premature babies, children and their parents.

Their celebration was held ahead of World Prematurity Day, on Saturday, November 17.

According to Newborns, one in seven children is born too soon in South Africa, and it’s the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5.

Newborns Trust manager, Amy Mac Iver, said: “We decided to team up with Greg Bertish and the Little Optimist Trust this year because of the message of hope we want to pass on to our preemies and their families.

“Greg was not a premature baby, but he’s no stranger to health complications and hospitals and is an example of overcoming adversity to make his dreams a reality.”

The event was attended by Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, Groote Schuur CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, several doctors, patients, past patients and their families.

One such past patient was Faith Lehmensich, 16, one of the smallest babies ever to survive, having been born at Groote Schuur weighing little more than 600g.

She had to undergo several surgeries as a baby and was given little chance of survival.

Now a teenager, Faith struggles with learning difficulties. She is home-schooled and volunteers at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in her spare time.

Olympic hero and world-famous preemie, Wayde van Niekerk, who is currently in Paris, sent a personal message of hope and encouragement to Faith, which was played to the audience at Tuesday’s event.

“I would like to take a moment to thank you and continue to encourage you to keep fighting, keep moving forward and continue showing your bravery. It’s really inspiring to see how you help others and put others first. I am sure that your love and kindness will take you quite a distance in life,” he said.