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Lurgan nurse Lisa on pride at amazing progress of 'miracle' son Padraig born at 26 weeks

Family supporting charity to raise awareness of premature babies and the help that they offer

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Lisa and James Thompson with their children Kacie (4) and Padriag (1) at their home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Lisa and James Thompson with their children Kacie (4) and Padriag (1) at their home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured at his family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured at his family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured with his sister Kacie (4) at their family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured with his sister Kacie (4) at their family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Neonatal nurse Lisa Thompson's miracle baby Padraig was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks + 2 days, weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Neonatal nurse Lisa Thompson's miracle baby Padraig was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks + 2 days, weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Miracle baby Padraig

Miracle baby Padraig

Padraig and Kacie

Padraig and Kacie

Lisa and James Thompson with their children Kacie (4) and Padriag (1) at their home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Neonatal nurse Lisa Thompson thought she was well used to seeing tiny babies - but even she was taken aback when she peered into the incubator for the first time to meet her newborn son Padraig.

Her very own miracle baby was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks and 2 days, weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Padraig was just 424g when he was born on November 17 last year - less than 1oz. His tiny feet where the length of the tip of his mum's thumb.

"I've seen lots of premature babies at work before," says Lisa, a neonatal nurse at Craigavon Area Hospital. "But never as tiny as Padraig."

She talks to us today to help local charity Tiny Life raise awareness of its work with premature babies with its Premvember campaign.

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Miracle baby Padraig

Miracle baby Padraig

Miracle baby Padraig

Lisa (32) and her husband James (34), from Lurgan, are also parents to Kacie (4) and Lisa's first pregnancy was like clockwork.

But by the time she was 20 weeks pregnant with Padraig they knew he would be small.

"At our 20-week scan they told us his head was normal size but his body was smaller," remembers Lisa. "They were concerned about my placenta so I had scans at 23 weeks and 25 weeks.

"There wasn't as much fluid around the baby as there should have been and blood wasn't flowing to the placenta properly. There were also issues with the blood flow from the umbilical cord."

Lisa and James were warned that her pregnancy was becoming high-risk and that their baby may have to be delivered early.

"We went home and neither of us slept very well that night," says Lisa. "My first thought was that I'd probably have to go down to the Royal or Dublin; I wouldn't be able to give birth in the hospital where I worked.

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Padriag Thompson (1) pictured at his family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured at his family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured at his family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

"After that we were given daily scans and a few days later, when I reached 26 weeks, they decided I needed to be admitted to hospital so the baby's heart rate could be checked every four hours.

"Each time we weren't sure whether we'd still hear a heartbeat. But I suppose my job meant that I'd seen babies defy the odds before. That helped me stay positive."

On the morning of November 17, 2019, Lisa was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after her blood pressure started to rise.

"I settled in and we decided that James would go home that night to be with Kacie and tuck her into bed," says Lisa. "We weren't expecting anything to happen.

"I had my dinner at 5pm and then at 5.30pm the consultant came to do another scan, just to be sure."

After that things moved fast; it was decided that Lisa's baby needed to be delivered that night to give him the best chance of survival.

"I had to go and call James and tell him to come back," she remembers. "We were terrified; it was the most horrific phone call I've ever had to make."

Baby Padraig was born just before midnight and taken straight to neonatal intensive care. Initially he did well despite his tiny size, needing a CPAP machine to help him breathe, but within the first two weeks of his life he needed ventilating twice.

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Neonatal nurse Lisa Thompson's miracle baby Padraig was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks + 2 days, weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Neonatal nurse Lisa Thompson's miracle baby Padraig was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks + 2 days, weighing less than a bag of sugar.

Neonatal nurse Lisa Thompson's miracle baby Padraig was born by emergency C-section at 26 weeks + 2 days, weighing less than a bag of sugar.

"The second time, me and James had left the hospital and everything was fine," says Lisa. "We were getting ready for bed at around 10pm when the phone rang. It was the hospital, saying we needed to get there straight away but they wouldn't tell us why.

"Then they phoned about 10 minutes later and told us we didn't need to rush as they'd 'got him back'. That was when we realised how serious it had been."

Padraig spent 66 days at the Royal and 49 days back in Craigavon. He underwent treatments including laser eye surgery and 15 blood transfusions, as well as antibiotics for infections.

When he was finally allowed home, in March this year, he still only weighed 4lbs despite being almost five months old.

But Lisa and James are so proud of their "wee fighter" who turns one this month.

"He's still only around 13lbs, he's in 3-6 month baby clothes," laughs Lisa. "But he's sitting up and rolling over, and he's just learned to say 'dada'.

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Padriag Thompson (1) pictured with his sister Kacie (4) at their family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured with his sister Kacie (4) at their family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Padriag Thompson (1) pictured with his sister Kacie (4) at their family's home outside Lurgan (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

"He absolutely adores his sister, he watches her constantly, he loves the bones of her. He had hernia surgery in September and he'll need another op for another hernia, but other than that he's doing brilliantly."

The family is now supporting TinyLife's Premvember campaign, with Lisa taking part in the charity's sponsored 30-day, 60-second plank challenge.

She says: "I was obviously aware of TinyLife through my work, even before we had Padraig and the work they do is so important. This has been such a tough year for charities so they really need our support.

"They offer so much help to families with premature babies and even during Covid they've been reaching out and offering Zoom calls because their usual classes haven't been able to go ahead. We're happy to speak out and raise awareness of prematurity. Padraig's is a story of hope."

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Padraig and Kacie

Padraig and Kacie

Padraig and Kacie

Valerie Cromie, spokeswoman for TinyLife, adds: "Every day in Northern Ireland six babies are born too soon; some arriving as early as 24 weeks, weighing as little as 1lb.

"Having a premature baby is a traumatic and stressful experience, and this year families have had to deal with lockdown and being isolated from their family support networks which has made their journeys even more challenging.

"TinyLife's family support team have continued to operate our vital breast pump loan service and swiftly moved our specialist family support programmes including baby massage, family groups and Tinygym online. This Premvember it's even more important that we support TinyLife families. Our Premvember Challenge is 'Be A Plank for TinyLife' and we are inviting everyone to Plank for 60 seconds for 30 days. £5 to register plus sponsorship."

To support Tiny Life visit: www.tinylife.org.uk

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