Tough start for little battler

Krista Richards with her baby Olivia, who was born prematurely at 26 weeks.
Krista Richards with her baby Olivia, who was born prematurely at 26 weeks.

Olivia’s mother Krista Richards was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia ” a medical condition characterised by high blood pressure and significant amounts of protein in the urine ” when she was 21 weeks pregnant with Olivia.

At 26 weeks and two days, she was rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) for a Caesarean section.

‘I was incredibly lucky to make it to 26 weeks, thanks to Dr Barry Walters and the nurses at King Edward,’ Mrs Richards said.

While still at KEMH, Mrs Richards noticed blood in four-week-old Olivia’s nappy. The baby was transferred to the Princess Margaret Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for scans and treatment.

‘The first time I saw blood in Olivia’s nappy it was dry and only a small amount. I was concerned but the nurse reassured me,’ Mrs Richards said.

‘When I noticed it in a second nappy there was a lot of fresh blood, it was incredibly confronting.’

Olivia was diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis, a bacterial infection in the intestines and the leading cause of morbidity in premature babies.

The NEC was quickly treated and Olivia made a full recovery.

Throughout her time in hospital, Mrs Richards donated her breast milk to help other premature babies while Olivia was drip-fed.

‘I decided I would donate my milk because I had such a huge supply,’ she said.

‘Olivia was never going to be able to use it and I know how important it is to a baby’s health, especially a premature baby,’ Mrs Richards said.

Mrs Richards said she met several mothers at PMH who desperately wanted their child to be fed breast milk but were unable to produce enough.

Mrs Richards said she and husband Thomas are still at PMH with Olivia and would remain there until their daughter was ready to be discharged.

‘Thomas and I are forever grateful to the amazing staff at PMH.’