A “miracle baby” born at the Netcare Kuils River Hospital stunned doctors when she was discharged during the festive season, after having spent more than nine months in their intensive care unit.

Hope Daniels is known to be the smallest micro-premature baby, in terms of weight, to survive in South Africa, said Dr Zaheera Kajee, a neonatologist at the Netcare Kuils River Hospital.

On Monday March 19 last year, little Hope was delivered via an emergency Caesarean at 24 weeks gestation and weighing a mere 300 grams. She spent just over nine months in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit before doctors deemed her strong enough to be sent home with her parents on December 21.

During her time at Netcare Kuils River Hospital, tenacious little Hope not only beat the odds against her surviving being born at just over half of the normal pregnancy term, but won the hearts of the doctors, management, nurses and other staff members at the hospital. Many of them turned out to bid Hope and her family a fond farewell.

Dr Kajee said she feared for Hope after the birth, as the little girl was significantly premature and her organ systems were very underdeveloped. The hardest part for her, she said, was to inform the parents Dorianne and Lesley Daniels, from Blackheath, that their daughter might not make it.

However, baby Hope proved doctors wrong and gradually showed progress with her weight and development.

“The team at the hospital have been amazed by Hope’s dogged determination to not only survive, but also to thrive. I think that we all steeled ourselves for the worst but, to our astonishment she not only firmly announced her presence after she was born, but also went on to overcome most obstacles that such micro-premature babies usually face,” said Dr Kajee.

Hope’s mother, Dorianne Daniels added: “My husband, Lesley, and I have been trying to have a baby for the past 10 years, so we have been praying hard for Hope ever since her birth.

“The 275 days that Hope has spent in hospital have been exceptionally hard and something of an emotional roller coaster, but we are deeply grateful to have reached a point where she is now home with us.”

She described her daughter as “a miracle baby.”

Hope now weighs 5.44kg and is well known by doctors for her strong and vibrant personality.

Dr Kajee explained that while Hope now has a good appetite for solids, it has been a challenge to get her onto full oral feeds, as she was reluctant to take her feeds via a bottle or breast.

Her parents have been trained to feed her via a tube which they will continue doing at home until she can independently ingest larger volumes of milk on her own.

“Hope has shown herself to be a little fighter and became a firm favourite of everyone at Netcare Kuils River Hospital who have worked hard to care for her and provide support to her parents,” said Dr Kajee.