Saturday, March 6, 2010

German Doctors Save Smallest Baby Boy Ever

A German baby boy went home with his parents in December, six months after his premature birth in June. His weight at birth was just 275 grams, which is 9.7 ounces. The lightest girl to be born and survive weighed 244 grams, which is 8.65 ounces. The little boy was born at the University of Gottingen hospital, where his mother had come complaining of premature labour pains. When the boy was born he was small enough to fit on a sheet of notebook paper and lighter than a block of butter. The boy was fortunate to be born to parents who wanted to fight for its life and in a place that did not ration health care. Upon his discharge from the hospital six months after his birth, the little boy was given good odds of survival by the doctors in Gottingen. His weight upon discharge was comparable to that of an average newborn baby.

There are many things that can be learned from such a high risk, troubled birth that benefit newborn infants in the future. The experience gained by doctors is shared with other medical professionals who can then have hope of saving children who might otherwise be lost. In a real sense, this helpless infant and his distraught parents helped other parents by choosing and fighting for life rather than giving up in the face of daunting odds.

As an American reading about Germany's health care system, I am intrigued. If that little boy were born in Britain or Canada, he would be an aching void in the hearts of his parents. In America, his chances would depend on how well covered his parents might be. Germany on the other hand has what sounds like a partnership of private enterprise and the government in providing some sort of universal health coverage. It should be noted that Germany has the most stringent anti abortion law in all of Western Europe. Unless the mother's life is in danger, abortion is not a part of West Germany's schedule of covered procedures. West Germany also pays less of its GNP for medical care than does the United States.

I hope to hear good news about the baby boy in Gottingen. And I want to hear more about the health care system that provided him such good care. America could use improvement in its health care system. Perhaps there is something to learn from Germany.

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