A young New Zealand couple is appealing for help after their little girl was born 23 weeks premature during a trip to Adelaide.
Reginald, 23, and Mau Matekohi, 24, both university students from Tokoroa on New Zealand’s north island, were visiting another couple in Adelaide who they had served a church mission with, according to a crowdfunding page started by Reg’s mother.
But on April 20, Mau went into early labour and the couple’s little girl, Angelina, was born at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Adelaide. The baby girl was born four months premature at 23 weeks.
Angelina only weighed 510 grams, “equivalent to a pound of butter”. She was less than the length of a school ruler at 29.5cm.
Mrs Matekhohi told the NZ Herald she was shocked by her daughter’s early arrival while her husband added the baby wasn’t breathing when she came out. At one point the couple faced losing her altogether.
“The doctor said it was highly unlikely she would respond, but then he put the ventilator in and she started breathing,” he said.
“We were really happy, we didn’t want to give up on our daughter straight away, and that was the first ten seconds of her life.”
He added his daughter is so tiny he’s sometimes scared to hold her because “you feel like any movement you make is going to break her”.
Aside from the early and unexpected birth, the young family are now appealing for financial support as they are both on student allowance that’s likely to be cut and Angelina can’t travel. They also have no family in Adelaide and are staying with friends from church.
The baby needs a breathing apparatus and an IV for blood transfusions.
Mr Matekohi is applying for work as the couple faces another four months in Adelaide caring for their daughter.
The New Zealand Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment.