A very premature baby made a dramatic arrival into the world
when he was born with little warning on a remote school
paddock in the Coromandel.
But a stroke of good luck meant Waikato Hospital
neonatologist Phil Weston was on hand to stabilise tiny Brody
Sheppard, who was born at just 29 weeks gestation, almost
three months early.
Brody's mother, Jamie-Lee Graham, began experiencing stomach
pains on Waitangi Day as she and her partner, Dion Sheppard,
prepared for bed at their Whenuakite home.
By 1am the pain had intensified so much that her midwife
called an ambulance and rushed to their house.
As Ms Graham, 27, was being transferred to a waiting air
ambulance at Whenuakite School, her little boy was born.
"He was pretty much breathing on his own but he was
struggling a bit," she said.
A trainee midwife who had been on the phone preparing Waikato
Hospital for the arrival of the pre-term baby was told that
Dr Weston just happened to be on holiday at neighbouring
Cooks Beach, a 10-minute drive away.
Dr Weston rushed to the scene and took over from a paramedic
to stabilise the baby. "Brody was able to breathe adequately
for himself," Dr Weston told the Herald. "And he didn't need
anything other than a little bit of oxygen support and being
Bad weather meant Ms Graham had to travel in a St John
Ambulance to Whitianga, 20 minutes away. There, her son was
loaded into an incubator in the Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance
and flown with a neonatal retrieval team to Waikato's newborn
intensive care unit.
Ms Graham and Mr Sheppard followed in their car. The couple
also have a daughter, 15-month-old Cassie-Lee, who was born
at 37 weeks.
Brody's sudden arrival was no surprise to Ms Graham, who gave
birth to a severely premature son, Cody, five years ago. The
tiny boy was born at 24 weeks and survived for six months in
hospital, where he eventually died of chronic lung disease.
Ms Graham said hearing Brody's first cry was the biggest
"I was just thinking, 'I have to do this all again and am I
going to lose this one too?' But once I heard him cry I was
relieved. I was like, 'Oh, my God, he's got lungs'."
Ms Graham has a condition which causes her liver to slow
during pregnancy and has been told this is the likely cause
of the early births.
Dr Weston said some babies born as prematurely as Brody were
"in a great deal of strife" but he was not.
"He's a stable baby and he's coming along nicely."
Ms Graham said her son was "doing everything he was meant to
be doing", including putting on weight, and would go home on
his due date, April 23.