Abi Peters, the preemie baby born 4 months early who made headlines last March after surviving the world's first operation on such a premature child, celebrated her first birthday over the weekend. Born at just 23 weeks—small enough to fit into the palm of her surgeon's hand—Abi underwent a life-saving stomach operation with only a one-in-10 chance of survival. So scary—and something that makes the now-thriving baby's first birthday a cause for some serious celebrating.
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At birth, Abi had contamination and infection throughout her abdomen as the result of a ruptured intestine. “She just looked so tiny and couldn’t make any noise or open her eyes. It was hard to believe something that small could survive, but we knew the fact she was being whisked away meant there was a chance," Abi's mom, Louise Peters, told Evening Standard. “She is a hands-on baby but she is smiling all the time. She is starting to make words, trying to say mama and dadda. She can almost sit up—that is the only part of her development where she is a little bit behind—but she is trying."
Louise and her husband, David Peters, have surgeon Zahid Mukhtar from St. George's hospital to thank for taking on the challenge of operating on Abi, who weighed just 1.3 pounds at the time. "We have operated on lots of tiny ones but she is by far the youngest," Dr. Mukhtar told the Evening Standard. "Premature babies are often born at 24 or 25 weeks but they are a few weeks older before they need surgery. ... In our minds, it sets a benchmark for what is possible.”
It's an inspiring, feel-good story to be sure—and one that may give so many other familes of very premature babies hope.
Happy birthday, Abi!