Premature baby who was only 212g now healthy and happy two-year-old

Madam Wong Mei Ling (second left) and her husband Kwek Wee Liang with their children, two-year-old Yu Xuan and a five-year-old son. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE KWEK FAMILY

SINGAPORE - Like many two-year-olds, Kwek Yu Xuan sees home as a bit of a playground. She loves moving a plastic chair around and likes to stand on a bench at the window, hang on to the grilles and slide the glass panels for ages.

But Yu Xuan is not the usual two-year-old - she was born four months premature in June 2020, at 212g, when newborns usually weigh between 2.5kg and 3.5kg.

She required a 13-month stay at the National University Hospital (NUH), where she battled against the odds before being discharged in July 2021 weighing 6.3kg.

At that point, she still had to cope with chronic lung disease - a condition associated with extreme prematurity - and had to use a ventilator at home for oxygen assistance.

Today, she no longer requires the ventilator, and is a mostly healthy and happy child, requiring only a feeding tube through her nose for milk, said her mother, Madam Wong Mei Ling.

Yu Xuan currently weighs 10.2kg, close to the usual weight of those her age.

Madam Wong and her technician husband Kwek Wee Liang, both 36, are Singapore permanent residents who moved back to Johor in January this year. They also have a five-year-old son.

They continue to keep in touch with the NUH care team and return here for regular follow-up treatment at the hospital.

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"The NUH care team is very nice and professional. I really respect them," said Madam Wong, a housewife.

Dr Yvonne Ng, a senior consultant at the department of neonatology at NUH's Khoo Teck Puat - National University Children's Medical Institute, said her team follows up with the baby's growth and development as well as with the parents on how to cope with caring for the pre-term baby at home.

Dr Ng and the other members of the premature baby care team at NUH were recipients of the Team Award on Friday (Aug 12) at the National University Health System (NUHS) Tribute Awards Ceremony 2022.

Kwek Yu Xuan was born four months premature in June 2020, at 212g. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE KWEK FAMILY

A total of 80 awards were presented at the ceremony held at Capella Singapore in Sentosa.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was guest of honour, lauded the efforts of the neonatal team.

"While Yu Xuan's chances of survival were low, the neonatal team cared for her around the clock, including with new innovative ways. They improvised feeding tubes, refashioned diapers for her small frame and took special care of her fragile skin to minimise infections," he said.

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In his speech, Mr Ong also noted improvements made by NUHS over the years, such as how it had embraced digital healthcare - telemedicine, medicine home delivery and contactless transactions.

He noted in particular that NUHS had recently successfully implemented the Next Generation Electronic Medical Records across its whole cluster, at the height of the Covid-19 Omicron wave earlier this year.

"Medical personnel in NUHS now have one true view of the residents' health needs. It will enable more personalised, consistent, and seamless care. It is a very important effort with very long-term implications," he said.

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