One of Britain’s most premature babies has defied the odds and doctor’s expectations after being born at just 22 weeks and one day – weighing less than 1lb.
Charvi Matthews weighed just 14oz – less than a loaf of bread – when she arrived more than three months early.
Proud parents Millisa Matthews and Daniel Golding, both 39, were told there was little chance their daughter would survive.
The tiny fighter was the same size as a tiny doll they tucked into her incubator – and smaller than her mum’s hand – with skin so translucent they could see “every vein”.
But following months of specialist care, countless operations and more than 35 blood transfusions, little Charvi fought back from the brink.
She’s now defying all expectations to breathe on her own, drink from a bottle – and even give her proud mum a tiny smile.
Besotted mum-of-four Millisa hopes to bring their newest arrival home by her first birthday and said people should “never give up on 22-weekers”.
Millisa, from Greenwich, London, said: “When Charvi was first born she could fit in one hand and you could see every vein in her body – it was scary how small she was.
“We were told she had about a 10% chance of survival – but I was adamant we’d give her that chance.
“She’s really had to fight for her life and there were times where we were very worried – but now she’s getting stronger every day and has exceeded doctors expectations.
“There was no way I was going to give up on her, no matter how much the odds were stacked against her.
“I want people to never give up on 22-weekers – Charvi has shown how much is possible if you give them a chance.”
Former retail worker Millisa and partner Daniel, a delivery driver, were expecting their fourth child to arrive on February 24, 2021.
In October last year the parents, as well as children Tayla, 15, Logan, eight, and Kaine, four, found out the baby was a girl at the 20-week scan.
But just weeks later Millisa was rushed into St Thomas Hospital with severe stomach pains, on October 26.
Doctors revealed she had sepsis which had sent her into early labour and Millisa said she was told by medics “this baby has to come out, like, right this second.”
After an emergency caesarean section the same day, tiny Charvi was born weighing 14oz (420G).
She said: “When I saw my baby girl, I was scared by how small she was.
“When doctors told me her weight, I remember thinking she weighed less than the tub of butter sat in the fridge at home.”
Charvi needed to be resuscitated before being whisked off to the NICU to be put on a ventilator because her lungs had not fully formed.
The family said they were told there was a 90% chance Charvi would die.
But hopeful Millisa said she “was adamant Charvi would survive”.
Over the coming months Charvi had two major operations on her stomach, more than 35 blood transfusions and countless rounds of antibiotics.
“It was a terrifying time – every time I’d get a phone call from the hospital, my heart would stop and I’d have tears in my eyes because I was expecting the worst,” said Millisa.
“At one point doctors told me I was ‘prolonging the inevitable’.
“But as bad as things got, we knew we’d never give up on her.”
Millisa and Daniel would take it in turns to visit Charvi in the NICU every day, and two months after she was born, they were allowed to hold their daughter for the first time.
Earlier this month Charvi was finally transferred to the neonatal high dependency unit.
Now more than five months since she was born, her three siblings still have yet to meet her – but Millisa hopes this will soon change as Charvi grows stronger.
The once palm-sized baby now weighs more than 6.5lbs – more than SEVEN times her birth weight – as well as being able to breathe unassisted for up to three hours a day.
Millisa said: “Doctors have told me she has exceeded all of their expectations – they didn’t think she’d survive the first 48 hours.
“She is the first surviving 22-weeker at St Thomas’ Hospital – but it shows that it is possible.”
Millisa hopes to have their ‘miracle baby’ home by her first birthday – and she now wants to ‘spread hope’ for other babies born at 22 weeks.
Millisa said: “There were times where I doubted our decisions to keep up Charvi’s treatment – I would question if I was doing the right thing to continue putting her through pain.
“Our whole world has been completely turned upside down since Charvi was born, and it was terrifying whenever her condition would deteriorate.
“But deep down, I always knew she’d make it, even when doctors told me I was just ‘prolonging the inevitable’ – and I want to share that message of hope to other families.
“I think people aren’t hopeful for 22-weekers, and many of them sadly do pass away, but you should always give them the chance.
“I want other mothers to know that 22-weekers can survive, so don’t give up hope.
“Miracles can and do happen – Charvi has proven that.”