Mum who gave birth to son at 23 weeks calls for abortion limit to be lowered

Nina and Mark Hyatt with 38 week old Dexter who was born at 23 weeks - pictured at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Neo Natal Unit
Nina and Mark Hyatt with 38 week old Dexter who was born at 23 weeks - pictured at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Neo Natal Unit

The mother of a premature baby born one week below the legal abortion limit says he is proof that the law on termination should be changed.

Little Dexter Hyatt was given a 5% chance of survival when he was born weighing just 1lb 3oz – about the same as a small bag of sugar – on August 7.

Dexter Hyatt just after he was born

Dexter Hyatt just after he was born

The tot, who turned 38 weeks on Sunday, has been in the world for longer than he was in the womb, meaning he would have only just been due to make an appearance now had he been a full-term baby at 39 weeks.

Dexter, who now weighs 4lb 2oz, has survived 22 blood transfusions, brain bleeds and a gut infection to beat the odds, and now his family are sharing their story in the hope it will make people think twice about having a termination.

The family believe that some may not realise that at 23 weeks, a baby in the womb is fully formed with arms, legs and a tiny face.

Mum Nina, 38, said: “Dexter is proof that they are not just a foetus. I really hope my story will help lower the legal abortion limit and that’s another reason why we want to get Dexter’s story across.

“We feel the only reason people should abort after 12 weeks is if medically the baby would not benefit from living. No one should take another life without reason.

“Some people never get to meet their hero, but I gave birth to mine.”

The Hyatts discovered Nina was pregnant just five months after the heartbreak of losing their premature daughter Lucy in November.

The pregnancy was going well until doctors discovered Nina’s cervix was opening at 22 weeks, so they fitted her with an Arabin pessary – which had only been used five times before in the UK – to keep Dexter inside the womb for as long as possible.

But he had other ideas and despite their best efforts, Dexter made his entrance after a traumatic birth at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

Nina said: “The staff at the John Radcliffe saved his life and it was a JR nurse that spotted he was ill and acted fast when we nearly lost him. We are so grateful to them.”

The tiny baby stayed there for eight weeks before he was transferred to Stoke Mandeville and now Nina is by his side for 13 hours a day with dad Mark, 48, visiting before and after work.

The couple are willing him to become strong enough so they can take him back to their home in Mitcham Walk, Quarrendon, Aylesbury, to be with his older sister Courtney, 17.

Nina said: “It would be the best Christmas present ever to have him come home”

But even though they are focusing all their energy on Dexter, baby Lucy is never far from their thoughts.

Nina said: “I think Lucy is looking down on her brother and looking out for him. It’s funny because she was born on November 7 and he was born on August 7, so it’s two sevens!”

The Hyatts are taking each day as it comes, as doctors do not know if Dexter’s early entry to the world has left him with disabilities.

The youngster will suffer from chronic lung disease until at least the age of five – meaning he will have to have oxygen tanks at home and when he’s out and about.

He has stage three Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) which is an eye disorder that affects premature infants weighing around 2¾ pounds or less that are born before 31 weeks of gestation.

The smaller a baby is at birth, the more likely that baby is to develop ROP. The condition — which usually develops in both eyes — is one of the most common causes of visual loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness.

Dexter may require eye laser treatment soon and he is being monitored by a top eye doctor at John Radcliffe who is happy with his progress at the moment.

Mark, who works at Perry’s on the Bicester Road, said: “These nurses do an incredible job. Imagine coming to work every day and having the life of someone else’s child in your hands.”

Nina said: “They have been amazing – they have become like my family because I’m here for 13 hours a day. If it wasn’t for them, Dexter wouldn’t be here. They treat him like their own baby.”

The Hyatts set up a Facebook page on the day Dexter was born to document each day of his life so family, friends and followers can keep up to date with his progress thanks to status updates, photos and poems.

Nina is keen to set up a support group for others with premature babies after forging friendships with other mums during Dexter’s time in hopsital.

Visit Dexter’s Facebook page here.