Callan McGerty is a healthy one-year-old because his mother refused calls to abort him 20 times and kept him alive by drinking eight pints of water a day.
Diane Macdonald, from Falkirk, was warned her baby would almost certainly die before or at birth when her waters broke 26 weeks early. She was advised at every appointment that followed to terminate the pregnancy, with doctors fearing the baby would succumb to infection and have damage to his brain, lungs and limbs due to a lack of amniotic fluid.
However Diane and Callan’s father, Michael McGerty, refused to give up on their unborn baby, believing “where there is a heartbeat, there is hope”.
The 38-year-old managed to carry him for another 13 weeks, drinking seven to eight pints of fluid a day in a desperate bid to keep him alive.
Diane said: “The doctors said it wouldn’t work but I believe it did.”
Despite being warned his lungs would not be strong enough for him to take his first breath, Callan came out crying, weighing just 2lb 10oz.
He came off oxygen just three weeks ago and almost lost his feet to sepsis, but yesterday celebrated his first birthday.
Support-for-learning assistant Diane said: “We never thought we’d see this day. But he’s such a happy, healthy wee boy and his smile lights up a room.
“As the scan showed my waters had gone, the doctors said they didn’t think he was going to make it. I was told he could have cystic fibrosis, club feet, his lungs wouldn’t be developed properly to survive birth, and there was one doctor who kept saying his head was squished.
“Now I just want to put it out there that it’s not always the bad that happens. Yes, mums need to be told the reality of what can happen but, also, it is a reality that these babies are surviving and mums should be given that information as well so they can make a proper choice.”
Diane admitted one day she almost considered a termination until a friend told her about Little Heartbeats, a charity she came across on Facebook.
She read posts from other mothers who had suffered pre-term pre-labour rupture of the membranes (PPROM) and whose babies had lived. The hydration advice came from the charity.
She added: “You just try anything if you think it will help you carry on and, if nature decided it was not to be, at least I’d know I had done as much as I could.”
Callan was born in Glasgow and later transferred to Forth Valley Royal Hospital. He came home after 108 days and, last month, came off all oxygen.
Diane, who is supporting Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity’s neonatal appeal by helping to raise thousands for the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital, the Royal Hospital for Children and Forth Valley Royal Hospital, added: “Without the nurses and doctors, Callan wouldn’t be here. They saved his life.”
For more information on PPROM, visit little-heartbeats.org.uk