Tiny fighter who was born weighing less than a bag of sugar at Sunderland Royal Hospital

Adorable Elsa Mae Hall spent 52 days on Sunderland’s neonatal unit after being born weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 8:30 pm

The beautiful baby girl was the smallest baby to be born at Sunderland Royal Hospital in January after arriving into the world weighing just 900g on January 23.

Elsa from Peterlee was delivered by emergency caesarean section at 30 weeks and three days after her heart rate started to drop following complications during mum Leanne Armstrong’s pregnancy.

Leanne, 32, suffered a bleed at 28 weeks pregnant and subsequent scans showed that her baby was measuring small and was not as developed as expected.

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Elsa Mae Hall is now back home and doing well.

The beauty salon owner who is also mum to Alfie Miller, 11, said: “I had a bleed and went to the hospital where I got checked out and told the bleeding had stopped and I could go home.

"The following day I was due to have a 4D scan and when I went for that they told me that the baby was measuring small and that I should go back to the hospital.”

A few days later Leanne returned to the hospital for a growth scan and again was told that she would need to be scanned every other day to monitor her baby’s development.

She said: "They said the baby is quite small and that it could be down to a number of different things including an infection in the blood, that I could just be carrying a small baby, or that it could be Downs Syndrome.”

Parents Leanne Armstrong and John Hall with baby Elsa Mae Hall in hospital.

In the days that followed Leanne was given a steroid injection after doctors found that the baby’s heart was dropping.

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The worried mum was also told that her bleeding had been caused by placental abruption and she was admitted to hospital on January 18.

There, medics continued to monitor the baby’s progress but when Elsa’s heart rate began to drop again on January 23 and doctors made the decision to deliver the baby.

Elsa Mae Hall was born weighing just 900g at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

"It was so terrifying [but] all the staff were absolutely brilliant,” mum Leanne said.

"When Elsa was born she was on high flow oxygen for four days and then breathed by herself for eight days.

"She then needed low flow oxygen which she was on until March 14.

"Elsa spent 52 days on the neonatal unit and we visited her every day.”

Mum Leanne Armstrong with baby Elsa Mae Hall.

Coronavirus restrictions made an already tough experience even harder for the family, with mum Leanne and dad John Hall having to wear protective gloves and masks when seeing their baby girl.

"We had to wear masks, aprons and gloves so we were not able to touch her or hold her hand skin-to-skin until we got her home,” Leanne said.

But thankfully Elsa proved herself to be a little fighter and was able to come home for the first time on March 16 without needing oxygen.

“We couldn’t believe it when we were told she was the hospital’s smallest baby in January,” Leanne added.

"It’s a good memory to have and something to put in her memory box."

The family now hope to be able to give back to Sunderland's newborn intensive care unit by raising funds for each baby on the unit to be given a keepsake memory box.

Sheila Ford, Head of Midwifery at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Elsa has made such good progress and that she has been able to go home with her family.

"I would like to thank the neonatal team who have looked after Elsa over the last four months.

"These have been challenging times, especially for Leanne and John.

"On behalf of everyone who has been involved in Elsa’s care, I would like to wish them all the very best for their future together.”

Dr Chike Onwuneme, Consultant Neonatologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was really a challenging period for both Leanne and John during Elsa’s stay in the neonatal unit, but Elsa is very resilient and made excellent progress during her stay.

"I am sure she will continue to do well and I wish Leanne and John all the best.”

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