Baby born weighing 440 g suffers a serious setback – but the parents hope she will be home for Christmas

Ruaché Botha will be six months old on November 15, but all the little one has known is the inside of an incubator, tubes, monitors, and needles at Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria.

Although she was beginning to show good process, a recent severe setback has meant that she has had to be put back on a ventilator.

Ruaché weighed little more than a can of cool drink when she was born prematurely at 26 weeks. Her mother, Mari, says she was only the size of a 19-week-old fetus because a blood clot in the umbilical cord had caused her to stop growing.

The baby has had several health challenges in his short life. Her intestines were perforated and had to be fixed during surgery, after which her intestines could not immediately be returned to her body and were covered by a bag.

Ruaché then started bottle feeding and could be taken off the ventilator, but last week she suffered a major setback.

“Everything went well, but a day later she started struggling to breathe,” Mari told YOU.

Mari and her husband, Johan, were told that Ruaché’s left lung had collapsed.

“She is still on a ventilator. Shame she has a long incision over her stomach from the operations. She was able to be fed again for the last two days – before that she could only be fed intravenously. She has been given 15ml of milk through a tube every two hours, but we’re hoping she’ll be able to get back on the bottle as soon as she’s off the ventilator, says Mari.

“God had brought us this far; He will not abandon us now.”

Mari also died almost shortly after Ruaché was born. She needs a kidney transplant because her kidneys were severely damaged during her pregnancy. She now receives dialysis three times a week for approximately five hours at a time.

The couple drives from Kempton Park every day to see Ruaché.

Right before his setback, Ruaché weighed just under 2kg.

“We can’t weigh her now because of all the tubes and wires, but I’m hoping she’ll gain weight now that she’s getting milk again,” says Mari.

“We are still hoping that we will get a little present for Christmas – that she will come home with us to celebrate with us. But the doctor has prepared us that she will probably still need oxygen. It will take a long time to come for her lungs.”

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