Nothing predicted a premature birth for the little boy of a mother from Bucharest, even less that all the complications associated with prematurity would lead him to only a 2% chance of survival. The faith of the parents and the determination of the doctors pushed the percentage to 100%.
Alexandra Bontic (33 years old) had an easy pregnancy. He didn’t even have the usual nausea or sudden mood swings. Once past 28 weeks, without realizing it, she and the family found themselves in an incredible carousel with many trials for the baby they were waiting for so eagerly. Her story, along with nine other mothers, is part of a movement called #estimaiputernicadecatcrezi which aimed to encourage women and mothers.
She gave birth urgently after a routine check-up
When you ask her what is the story of her child, whom she named David, Alexandra is a little restrained: “David is a child born prematurely, with several health problems, with several complications that he developed during his stay at intensive therapy. He was hospitalized for 101 days, three and a half months.”
She went through so much as a mother and it’s as if she doesn’t want to relive them by telling about them. He tried to leave behind what was and just look forward with a big smile on his face. Only the tears in the eyes betray the pain of what happened. She remembers how, just entering her seventh month of pregnancy, she went as usual for a simple routine check-up.
To her surprise, the doctor Hadi Rahimian, who was following the baby’s progress, discovered that his heart was beating much too fast, which put his life in danger. On the spot, it was then decided to enter an emergency caesarean section. As the little one’s lungs had not had time to develop well enough, he was intubated immediately after his birth. He needed complex care in the neonatal intensive care unit of Băneasa Regina Maria Hospital.
She felt ‘very vulnerable and powerless’
When she approached the incubator where David was and saw his frail body, covered in wires and tubes instead of kisses and her warm arms, Alexandra felt “very vulnerable and helpless”. At the same time, he discovered in her “an immense power” to do anything for her child. Alexandra did not expect for a moment to give birth much earlier than expected. Hence the very big shock she had when she was faced with the accomplished fact. She felt completely unprepared physically and mentally.
She found the support she needed in the love and courage of her husband, but also in the attention of the medical staff. Neonatologist Cătălina Iordan assured her from the first days after birth: “Ms. Bontic, you should know that we take care of him as if he were our own child”. They never stopped looking for the right solutions not only to save him, but also to have a normal life.
They chose a revolutionary therapy
A month and a half after his birth, David’s condition deteriorated. For his mother, it was the most difficult period: “I was called outside the program in case there was a serious problem. I was told that David was not well and those were the hardest moments, when I didn’t know what the outcome would be and if he would get home.”
Both Alexandra and her husband were explained what extraordinary results were obtained with the help of stem cell therapy in another boy saved in 2020 and that this therapy is the only saving solution for David as well. As they had opted for stem cell harvesting at birth, they could use the proposed therapy.
Biologists thawed two umbilical cord tubes and harvested mesenchymal stem cells. They obtained no less than 20 million life-saving cells in the laboratory, which were administered in two doses to David. To everyone’s joy, after only 14 days of stem cell treatment, mechanical ventilation was no longer needed.
Home, after almost four months of intensive care
After 101 days from birth, David went home with his parents. That day was the happiest in Alexandra’s life, who told us that it was magical to see him feeling well. “It was a very calming moment, the first step in truly feeling like a mother,” she recalls.
In September 2022, David celebrated his first two years of life. It grows spectacularly, it is cheerful and full of life. Looking back, the mother realizes what was the source of her strength: “I found a spiritual way to reach him, because I have to inspire him through this way to be strong.
It took a lot of strength because I needed a lot of support, therapy, surgeries, which was quite hard to bear, but he was very strong and gave me strength too. ‟.
Advice for parents of premature babies
“Their cub will pass on enough strength to get them through everything, especially the mothers, although they have moments when they think they can’t take it anymore.”