Miraculous Whitby baby, born weighing 15oz, is smallest boy to survive birth at James Cook hospital

A baby boy born to Whitby parents 14 weeks early weighing just 15oz is the smallest boy ever to survive birth at James Cook hospital.

By Corinne Macdonald
Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 10:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 10:36 am
Tiny Nephie, left, and Geoff and Natasha with their son. Pictures from the Hogarth family.
Tiny Nephie, left, and Geoff and Natasha with their son. Pictures from the Hogarth family.

Nephie Mirakel Hogarth, born at 4.21am on September 28, is now 12 weeks old and weighs 4lb 10oz.

His mum, Natasha Hogarth was in hospital for six weeks before his birth after her waters broke at just 19 weeks of pregnancy.

Nephie's dad, Geoff Hogarth, said: "It was very scary. [Natasha's] waters broke at 19 weeks and from then she had to have weekly growth scans until he could possibly survive.

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Tiny Nephie shortly after birth. Pictures from the Hogarth family.

"She managed to hold on until he was big enough. After the first scan which said he was viable, he came that night at 26 weeks and six days."

The couple started IVF in October 2018 and got married earlier this year in Santorini, they had only been married for two weeks when Natasha's water broke.

Rather than nesting and preparing for the arrival of their son around his original due date, December 29, the pair have spent the past three months driving to and from the hospital in Middlesbrough.

Geoff said: "My wife was offered a room in the hospital but it's pretty isolated so she only stayed for a week and then when she was given the go ahead to drive she's been driving up every day."

Geoff and Natasha Hogarth with Nephie in hospital. Pictures from the Hogarth family.

Geoff, an electrical engineer, gets up at 3am to travel to Hull for work, before driving 105 miles to Middlesbrough and returning home to Whitby around 10pm every night.

He's also been building an extension on nights and weekends so the couple have enough bedrooms for their new son, Geoff's daughter Summer, 9, and Natasha's son Archie, 6.

Nephie is improving and will hopefully be able to come home in the new year.

"He's doing really well, he's had a number of ups and downs with infections and colds but he's out of the incubator at the moment," Geoff said, "Hopefully after Christmas he'll be transferred to Scarborough Hospital and then home in January.

Geoff and Natasha with Summer, Archie and Nephie. Pictures from the Hogarth family.

"He'll be coming home on oxygen but everything is looking good.

The couple are both looking forward to Nephie leaving hospital, though life with a premature baby comes with its own challenges.

Geoff said: "We're only used to full term babies so we've had a lot to learn. He's starting to bottle feed but it's hard for tiny babies because they're just absolutely knackered.

"When he finally come home we can't treat him like a normal baby because of the risk of infection, we'll have to have a sign on his pram saying people can't touch him, and limit the amount of people who come to visit."

He said the care they have received at James Cook hospital has been 'unbelievable', and the experience has made him appreciate the NHS even more.

The cost of treatment for a very premature baby is approximately £1,800 a day, which Geoff said would bankrupt families if they had to pay for it up front.

"We're feeling very positive," he continued, "He's out of imminent danger. He's still under 24-hour watch but there's nothing the hospital can't deal with now.

"When he was born the staff warned us that tiny babies usually don't cry because it uses so much of their energy, but he came out and was crying straight away.

"They reckon the medicine hasn't changed that much but you just get the odd one or two babies that will not give up.

"Every step of the way everyone says how remarkable he is."

On Christmas Day Geoff and Natasha will spend the morning with Archie and Summer before heading to the hospital armed with a Marks and Spencer Christmas Dinner ready meal, to spend their first Christmas with their youngest son.

Geoff said the community in Whitby had been amazing, with people sending gifts, knitting clothes for Nephie, and stopping him in the street to ask how the baby is getting on.

Geoff added: "When he was born it wasn't nice, obviously we loved him straight away, but it wasn't nice to see him so little.

"It's been a full-on three months but hopefully he'll be home soon. I think we'll take January off work to spend time settling him in."