'She was not moving': parents of 'miracle baby' share story

The family of a 23-week-old baby born earlier this year is sharing their story.

Children’s Hospital of Manitoba fundraising for ventilator that saved little girl’s life

Lucy Lau was born prematurely in Churchill, Man. earlier this year at 23 weeks old. (Submitted)

They call her their "miracle baby."

She's 9 months old now, but when Lucy Lau was born in Churchill, Man. her parents didn't know if she would live. That's because she was born prematurely, just 23 weeks into her mother's pregnancy. 

"The first thing I did was actually come to terms with the fact that we might lose our daughter," recalled Lucy's father Ian Lau, a Churchill doctor.

"I was in shock," added Ian's wife Cynthia, another doctor, recalling going into labour.

Ian Lau said Lucy is the smallest newborn he's ever seen.

"We were shocked at how tiny she was," he said.

"She was not moving, she was purple and she was not breathing."

Ian and his wife said they knew their daughter's chances of survival were small.

The family of a 23-week-old baby born earlier this year is sharing their story. 12:57

Babies as premature as Lucy cannot breathe on their own, and require the assistance of a special ventilator to survive.

Ian said the couple felt hopeless for a moment and said a prayer for their daughter.

He offered doctors at the hospital in Churchill help and inserted a breathing tube into Lucy's windpipe to get her breathing started.

"You can imagine trying to inflate a balloon. It's always that first breath of air that's the hardest to get in there," he said.

'She weighed so little'

After being born, Lucy had to be rushed by air ambulance from Churchill to the Children's Hospital of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

But first, her parents held her. "I could feel her little arms and legs moving around and she was just very gently stroking me, my skin," said Cynthia.

"All I could feel was the blankets that were surrounding her because she weighed so little," added Ian.

The Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba has put out a call for donations to help pay for new jet ventilators, like the one used to save Lucy's life.

In April, the hospital had to rent jet ventilators because they didn't have enough.

Tanya Williams, a spokesperson for the foundation, says the hospital sees 30 to 40 infants who require the equipment every year in the intensive care unit. She said the machines cost $45,000 US each. 

With files from Bridget Forbes