Tiny Summer overcomes huge odds
Ashley Cowcher, Natasha Watkins and Summer. Picture: Kate Bastians/The West Australian

The only sign of little Summer Cowcher's tumultuous start to life is an oxygen tube feeding into her nose as she squirms happily in her cot.

Born at just 24 weeks and weighing a minuscule 640g, the Bunbury baby's odds of survival were slim.

Confined to an incubator for 10 weeks, she had to fight off three infections and have six blood transfusions before she was considered out of the danger zone.

Father Ashley Cowcher recalled his feelings of helplessness and panic when his partner Natasha Watkins was put on an emergency flight to King Edward Memorial Hospital on September 26 and spent the next two days in labour.

His nerves were shot by the time doctors sat the young couple down to talk them through the challenges Summer would face when she was born - if she survived the birth.

They were told that if she did survive, Summer could be born with one of myriad disabilities.

Ms Watkins, 28, said she had tried to remain calm through the ordeal.

"The doctors were giving us a pretty grim assessment but I felt she was going to be OK," she said.

After 18 weeks in hospital, Summer was finally allowed to go home last week.

Neonatologist David Baldwin said Summer was lucky to be alive.

"All the survivors at that gestation are amazing," Dr Baldwin said. "The fact that any of those babies survive is a miracle really."

He said Summer would probably not be here if she was born a week earlier. "There are many units that wouldn't embark on intensive care at 23 weeks," Dr Baldwin said.

The West Australian

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