Over the last week, the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust held its inaugural World Preemie Festival to create awareness and raise funds for premature babies.
The festivities started on Saturday November 13 with a fun walk and community fair at Tygerberg Hospital and ended on Thursday November 18 with a gala dinner at Lagoon Beach Hotel.
Local comedians Stuart Taylor, Dalin Oliver and Yaseen Barnes performed in a comedy show at the hotel on Wednesday November 17, and DJ Ready D played the tunes.
Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust CEO Jason Falken said: “We are paying special attention to the courage and resilience we are taught by our preemie babies. They are showing a lot of us how to be strong and they are always born fighters. Even when they are teenagers, they have to keep on fighting. So we can learn a lot from them and we are celebrating that.”
There were currently 132 preemie babies at Tygerberg Hospital, the smallest weighing 400g, he said, adding that a woman who had recently given birth to triplets lived in a shack in unhygienic conditions.
“There are so many levels of social problems around this issue. How do we leverage layers of support to tackle all of this? We can’t do it alone as the trust and we can’t just do it as the Cape Town community. This needs to be tackled as a country, continent and global community. This is the intention of this festival – to get global support and help these preemies and their families,” said Mr Falken.
Danica Rezandt is the mother of a 14-year-old girl who was born prematurely at Tygerberg at just six months. The little girl, Hope, was given a 10% chance of making it past the first night, but her mother said she was a miracle baby and that was why they had named her Hope.
“A month before she came, I was in and out of hospital, and the doctors wanted me to hold on to about seven months because that would be kind of a safe duration of pregnancy. It was very scary because she was so small and her lungs weren’t developed well. She was being given steroids to help with her health and boost her lungs. She stayed the first three months of her life at the hospital,” said Ms Rezandt.
Hope is Ms Rezandt’s firstborn and she has since had two other girls.
Hope now volunteers at the Tygerberg Children’s Trust as a way of giving back.
John Booysen, who works in paediatrics and neonatal ward at Tygerberg Hospital, has been a professional nurse for 30 years. He said preemies deserved a chance at a normal life.
“It can be expensive and very difficult for the families, but it is important as families and communities to stand together and help one another. There are many things in this country and the world that we disagree on as a people, but I think this is one cause we can all get behind.”