The doctors in Tokyo, Japan weren’t sure if he would survive. He was small, with the lowest birth rate for a baby boy ever recorded at just 9.45 ounces (0.59 pounds or 264 grams). The chances of this precious baby boy being able to ever leave the hospital were slim. However, he didn’t just beat the odds. He shattered them.
Premature babies that are born under 300 grams have only a 50% survival rate. His chances at survival were extremely slim, but he wasn’t growing in utero and doctors felt that they had no choice. Risk life by birth or risk him dying in the womb. With the odds stacked against them, the doctors chose life.
“I can only say I’m happy that he has grown this big because honestly, I wasn’t sure he could survive,” his mother, whose name has been withheld, said through a hospital spokesperson.
The baby boy was possibly suffering from Intrauterine Growth Restriction, where a preborn baby stops growing at some point in pregnancy. There could be a variety of reasons why this occurred, the mother, baby or a combination of the two could be responsible for his condition. Continuing the pregnancy could have put the mother’s and the baby’s lives at risk.
Is it possible that because of his condition and his low birth weight, that doctors in the U.S. would have encouraged the boy’s mother to choose abortion over life?
It is an unpleasant, but unfortunately a realistic question. There have been only two dozen cases of babies weighing under 300 grams that have survived, and boys are less likely than girls to thrive with such a low birthweight. A doctor could also argue that the child will likely have other issues like difficulty breathing or hypoglycemia and may potentially lead to long-term growth problems. But she didn’t, and doctors did everything they could to save that little boy.
As the abortion debate rages in the United States, the ability of doctors and nurses to treat premature babies and help them survive is incredible. The technology and various medical treatments continue to help babies live and often excel beyond initial expectations. Unfortunately, despite the successes that many babies and families have experienced, abortion is sometimes one of the first solutions a doctor presents to parents when there are problems in a pregnancy.
Abortion should not become a treatment for preborn babies with a troubling diagnosis or as the solution to the perceived “problem” of an unplanned pregnancy. Every life is precious, regardless of the health, financial or life circumstances that a child is born into. The Japanese team who helped treat this child took that message to heart.
Dr. Takeshi Arimitus, the doctor who treated the boy, said, “I want people to know that babies can return home vigorous even if they are born small.”
Hopefully citizens, politicians and doctors here in the United States will take that message of encouragement to heart. A baby may be small, but he can be strong.