Miracle baby who weighed under 3lbs when he was born spends first Christmas at home

A miracle baby born ten weeks premature who needed life-saving surgery when he was just one day old has spent his first Christmas at home with his delighted parents.

By Rebecca Marano
Monday, 28th December 2020, 11:45 am

Archie Burns weighed a tiny 2lbs 12oz when his mum Emma Bailey gave birth to him on August 17 - and had to spend the next ten weeks in hospital.

The little fighter was rushed to theatre the day after he was born when doctors discovered his oesophagus was not connected to his stomach as they tried to insert a feeding tube.

Surgeons at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) connected his oesophagus to his stomach as it should have been, but he later needed two more operations to widen his windpipe.

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Little Archie with mum Emma Bailey and dad Chris Burns.

Little Archie’s issues were not detected during pregnancy and, despite the difficulty of his premature birth, his parents believe it was lucky his early arrival meant doctors were able to discover his problems.

Now, finally home and weighing a healthier 8lb 7oz, Archie will spend the festive season at home with besotted Emma and Chris.

Mum Emma said: "To have him home for Christmas is great, we're just so happy.

"We felt like that day would never come, we were in hospital day after day. We could stay awake all night with him and still be happy he's home."

Archie Burns weighed a tiny 2lbs 12oz when his mum Emma Bailey gave birth to him on August 17

Dad Chris Burns added: "It was a complete coincidence that he was born premature and with the defects, they are not connected.

"If he wasn't born premature, it might not have been detected. He would have been sent home and we'd have only found out when he started choking when we tried to feed him.

"That would have probably been more distressing. If he hadn't been premature, it could have been a very different scenario."

The now four-month old was born with oesophageal atresia, a rare birth defect that affects a baby's oesophagus, the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach.

Little Archie Burns enjoying his first Christmas.

This meant that food could not reach his stomach.

He was also born with tracheo-oesophageal fistula, which means the lower part of his oesophagus was connected to his windpipe.

Both defects had gone undiagnosed during pregnancy.

Emma, who works for a bank, said: "I didn't understand what the doctor was saying to me when he told me about his oesophageal problems. He had to tell me three times, it was such a whirlwind.

"I don't even remember that drive to hospital at all, I just had all these questions in my head.

"I feel we were lucky in some ways the way it worked that it was detected at Pinderfields Hospital and that we were so close to LGI, because there were families from all over the country there.

"We're so grateful to the amazing NHS staff, all the doctors, nurses and surgeons that looked after Archie and us."

After the first surgery, Archie spent two weeks in an incubator as doctors monitored his progress.

Due to social distancing rules, only one parent at a time could stay with him in hospital.

He was allowed home to Pontefract in October but was rushed back to LGI after just three days when his parents noticed he had problems breathing.

He had a further operation to widen his windpipe and needed additional corrective surgery a fortnight later.

Chris, a land manager for a property developer, said: "With covid regulations, I was only allowed at his cotside for five hours a day, while Emma was there all day.

"During lockdown, only one parent at a time was allowed at the cotside.

"It was hard because, as much as you're parents and you have to be there for your child, you always want to be there for each other too and I couldn't be there for Emma.

"I wasn't able to see him at all after the surgical repairs, Emma was there doing that part.

"I just felt helpless at both ends."

Archie was finally allowed home on November 3 and not even sleepless nights can wipe the smiles off his first-time parents’ faces.

Emma added: "There was never an end date that he might be home for, it was just a case he will be released when he's ready.

“But we’re so happy he’s made it home for Christmas.”

While Archie will need to have his windpipe surgically widened as he grows, doctors are not expecting any further complications and hope he can live a healthy, happy life.

The couple were supported by the Sick Children's Trust, who provided accomodation at LGI for families up who have children on the wards.

The hospitals' charity, Leeds Cares, has been able to raise £24,000 for a new high tech incubator after Archie featured in an online appeal which used the little lad as an example on the importance of incubators.

Chris added: "You sort of take these things for granted sometimes when you go into hospital that they will just have all the best equipment available to them, but it's not the case.

"It was a real eye opener for us that the hospitals have to fund this sort of stuff themselves.

"We see the nurses, doctors and surgeons as Archie's first family and we will forever be in their debt.

“We’re absolutely over the moon that the appeal has raised enough to buy a new incubator for the ward."