Baby born four months early turns one

Posted on Tuesday 23rd July 2019
Baby Sayanna celebrating her birthday with balloons and toys.

Sayanna celebrating her first birthday at home with balloons and toys

The family of a baby, who weighed just 1lb 6oz (630 grams) when she was born, has celebrated her first birthday thanks to life-saving care at Evelina London.

After treatment at Evelina London, Sayanna Gordon, who was born four months premature and so small she could fit in the palm of her mother’s hand, has defied the odds and celebrated her first birthday. 

Sanna Nieminen, a mother-of-three from Abbey Wood, gave birth at her local hospital when she was 23 weeks and five days into her pregnancy.

Sayanna and her mum share a first cuddle.Sanna said: “It’s still a bit of a mystery about why she was born so early. She’s our little miracle, everybody is surprised at how well she is doing considering what she went through. Her sisters, Lola and Lilly, are very excited to have her home.

“We’re celebrating Sayanna’s first birthday at home with cake, which is very fitting as Evelina London is marking its 150th anniversary this year. I’m so grateful to all the wonderful people at the hospital who helped to save her life and who supported me through such a difficult time.”

Sayanna spent a month on life support, suffered kidney failure, underwent an operation to repair a hernia and received 13 blood transfusions while at our hospital.

Sanna said: “As soon as Sayanna was born we were told that she was very small and was unlikely to make it. But when I saw her kicking I told the midwife to do everything she could to help her.

“Our local hospital didn’t have the facilities to care for such a premature baby so we were rushed to the specialist neonatal unit at Evelina London. She was really sick in the beginning and I felt hopeless because there wasn’t much I could do for her.”

Sanna, 38, said: “It was an emotional rollercoaster because one day she would be doing well only to go downhill again the next. I was so anxious all of the time and scared that she wasn’t going to make it. After a month I said ‘I need help’.”

Evelina London is one of a handful of hospitals across the country that has a dedicated clinical psychologist based in the neonatal unit, which meant Sanna was able to get the support she needed on the ward without being separated from her baby.

Dr Rebecca Chilvers, lead clinical psychologist in our neonatal unit, said: “Having a baby admitted to a neonatal unit can be a very stressful and challenging time for parents, who often feel shocked, frightened and experience a sense of helplessness and, at times, hopelessness.

One-year-old Sayanna wearing a pink outfit and a colourful hat.“People often worry about upsetting their families and friends but this can leave them having to manage their difficult feelings on their own. Having someone to talk to who understands the neonatal unit can help reduce the immediate and long-term impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing.”

Sanna said: “It’s completely normal not to feel normal in that situation and it takes strength to admit that you can’t do it all.

“Before meeting Rebecca I felt completely lost but having someone there to confide in, who understood what I was going through and who didn’t judge me, meant I had one less thing to worry about. She saved me in my lowest and weakest months and she saved my marriage.”

Sayanna is developing well and continues to be monitored every three months.

Dr Hammad Khan, consultant neonatologist, said: “Sayanna was very poorly when she arrived on our unit and was one of the many, very small babies we have the privilege to look after on our specialist neonatal unit. It’s fantastic to see how well she is doing.

“Evelina London has changed the lives of children and young people for 150 years. Our neonatal unit cares for more than 1,000 babies a year with complex and life-threatening conditions, we are proud to say we have excellent outcomes for the babies in our care and always look to have parents and families at the heart of that care.”

Our Evelina 150 Stories

Sayanna's journey is part of a series of Evelina 150 Stories that we are sharing in celebration of our special 150th anniversary year. Throughout 2019, we are highlighting some of our amazing patients and also encouraging them to blog about their experiences.

150 years ago, Evelina London was born out of love, when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild founded the hospital in memory of his wife, Evelina. Since 1869, we've been saving lives, improving health and inspiring better futures. 

Find out more about how we are marking our special birthday: