Preemie adopted by nurses who cared for her

A US couple who work on a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) have adopted a child they treated as a patient.

In 2021, Taylor and Drew Deras – special baby care nurses at the Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska – looked after Ella following her premature birth at 23 weeks, weighing just 1lb 2oz.

The Derases nursed Ella during her eight-month stay on their NICU, subsequently becoming her foster parents. They formally welcomed the little girl into their family on 18 November 2023, US National Adoption Day.

‘I really care for her’

Looking back to Ella’s time in intensive care, Taylor said she “was very, very little and very, very sick”, adding that nursing staff were told from time to time she might not make it through the night.

When her birth mother decided she could not look after her daughter, Ella became a ward of the state, prompting Taylor to tell her husband Drew: “I really do care for her and I want to bring her home and care for her as our child.”

He agreed, and Taylor reflected: “So it was, I loved her as my patient, and then once we became foster parents, I loved her as my own child.”

Drew added: “As a foster parent, it was just like, the guard that you had prior to protect yourself of not falling in love with someone else’s child, it just fizzled away, and you’re just like, ‘OK, this child needs me and I need them.'”

‘Better and better’

Now approaching her third birthday, and due to start preschool in the Autumn, Ella’s parents describe her as “sassy, smart, kind and bubbly”.

Although she has a tracheostomy, and currently needs to be fed through a small tube inserted into her stomach, Taylor and Drew expect these to be removed within the year.

Taylor explained: “Every week she gets better and better. She’s walking and talking, and we didn’t know if she was going to be able to do those things.”

England and Wales

Last month, more than 700 medics called on MPs to reduce Britain’s abortion limit to better reflect the increasing number of surviving premature babies.

In a letter, a range of medics from senior consultants to GPs encouraged parliamentarians to vote for Conservative MP Caroline Ansell’s amendment to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill to reduce the abortion limit from 24 weeks – set in 1990 – to 22 weeks.

The medics called such a change “long overdue” as survival rates for 23-week-old babies have doubled in the last decade, leading to revised guidance to save children born at 22 weeks.

The Bill is awaiting Report Stage, when MPs will be able to vote on Ansell’s amendment if it is selected.

Also see:

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