How miracle baby survived being born 16 weeks early
IT'S the sound every new parent waits for - their baby's first cry, but Evelyn Moss was born so prematurely, weighing just 550g, it would be weeks before her Mum heard her daughter's voice.
Evelyn entered the world more than 16 weeks early at the Caboolture Hospital on August 7.
She was not breathing and had no heartbeat.
"It was terrifying," Mum Kandida Robertson recalled.
"There was a lot of people in the room, a lot of scared faces. I was in shock, really, just watching everyone run around. I didn't get to see her straight away because there was such a big group of people around her. It was quiet for way too long."
Doctors had to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on her little girl to save her life.
She was in capable hands but her only chance of survival lay about 50km south with the highly specialised care at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.
Within minutes of her birth at 10.30am, a specialist doctor and nurse from the RBWH-based Neonatal Rescue Service Queensland, NeoRESQ, was dispatched by ambulance to Caboolture.
Every year, NeoRESQ retrieves about 500 sick and premature babies from remote parts of the state, and occasionally overseas.
With two teams already out that day, NeoRESQ's medical director Lucy Cooke and nurse unit manager Melissa Melville, retrieved Evelyn themselves.
The tiny baby was only a few hours old when she was strapped into a special state-of-the-art neonatal cot, worth about $200,000 each, for her first ambulance ride to Brisbane.
She was breathing via a ventilator, a tube down her windpipe, between her vocal cords, preventing her from crying.
"The Caboolture team had done a great job in stabilising her, I'm sure it was really stressful for them," Dr Cooke said.
"She was looking nice and pink, she was moving, her blood sugar was good, her temperature was good - all the things we look for as measures of stability.
"But we brought her back to the RBWH knowing full well that she was going to have a very long journey in intensive care, if she survived.
"A significant proportion of babies born at 23 weeks' gestation, even if they're born at a big hospital, are not going to survive - about 50 per cent. It's significantly less for babies born outside a big hospital."
RBWH director of neonatology Pieter Koorts said Evelyn was "really lucky to be here".
"At 23 weeks' gestation, you can't guarantee survival," he said. "At times during her stay, it was touch and go.
"She was in a lot of trouble with her lungs."
But Evelyn, who turns 82 days old today and weighs more than 2300g, is expected to be able to go back to Caboolture Hospital in two or three weeks and should be home with her Mum, Dad Greg Moss, three sisters and brother well before Christmas.
Her three-year-old sister Charlotte has already nicknamed her "chicken" after seeing a photo of her wrapped in plastic, used by doctors to keep her warm, soon after her birth.
Her 31-year-old mother has a recording of her first cry, on September 23, when she was about six weeks old, after she was disconnected from the ventilator.
That's been replaced with a C-PAP - continuous positive airway pressure - machine, which assists her breathing, but doesn't breathe for her.
"Not being able to hear her cry was the hardest thing for me," said Ms Robertson, who was unable to even nurse her daughter until she was 23 days old.
"When I actually heard her for the first time, I had a little cry myself."
Although Ms Robertson has always liked the name Evie, she settled on Evelyn for her youngest daughter after reading that it means life.
To buy tickets to the RBWH Foundation's Butterfly Ball on November 2, which raises money for neonatal research: rbwhfoundation.com.au/support-us/events