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Baby Yohannes: In Ethiopia, a woman’s second premature baby conquers all odds

At just 28 weeks gestation, Workie gave birth to her son at the same hospital where she had her first premature baby

Mum

Approximately 115 kilometers outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Workie Abegaz makes and sells injera – a type of bread specific to Ethiopia and Eritrea – and Jamal Abdulhakim works as a day laborer, earning roughly $32 per month.

In 2011, Workie, pregnant with their first child, went into labor prematurely at just seven months. Her daughter weighed 700 grams at birth and was in desperate need of glucose. Sadly, the child passed away just minutes after birth.

“My face didn’t used to look like this,” Workie said. “Because of my loss, my face is physically scarred.”

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Five years later, Workie was pregnant again and, this time, hoping for a healthy birth. Then, at just 28 weeks’ gestation, at the same hospital, she again gave birth to a premature baby. Baby Yohannes weighed 897 grams when he was admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and soon developed respiratory complications. “I didn’t think he was going to live,” Workie said.

But he did. “It took five years for me to have a baby. Against all odds, he lived.”

This time around the hospital had new maternal infant care technology thanks to a partnership between GE, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, USAID, and the Ethiopian Pediatric Society. With the support of the hospital staff, Yohannes’ family, and this innovative technology,Yohannes survived and is now a healthy one year, five month old baby.

This is Workie’s story:

November 17 is World Prematurity Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness about prematurity and recognizing these tiny and resilient babies, like Yohannes, around the world. Many families who have experienced prematurity are sharing their words of wisdom and inspiration for others currently going through it. Read their messages here.