NRL News

Boxer Jason Cunningham’s son weighed as much as boxing gloves

by | Jul 1, 2024

By Right to Life UK

Boxer Jason Cunningham and his partner have welcomed a premature baby boy who weighed only slightly more than a pair of boxing gloves at birth.

Cunningham’s partner Bec discovered that she was five months pregnant with the couple’s second child only a week before the former boxer’s first fight as a head trainer.

Only a few days after the discovery, she began to experience stomach pains and, to her great surprise, she went into labour four months early.

Weighing just 1.5lbs at birth, the baby boy was given just a 45% chance of survival, inspiring his parents to name him Cheance.

“It was a massive shock”, Bec said. “I don’t think we really got a chance to get our heads around it”.

Baby Cheance is continuing to fight for survival

For the first 10 days of his life, Bec was unable to hold Cheance, but as his condition improved, he was taken off his ventilator towards the end of March, and his mum was finally able to hold him.

Staff at the hospital have told his parents that he has a long road ahead, but Cunningham has reported that Cheance is “improving day by day”.

“He’s in the best hands with the best care possible”, he added. “There’s nothing we can do. It’s his little battle”.

Bec also said that Cheance is “doing amazing”, adding “It’s hard because we can’t do anything for him. I can’t even feed him. You feel helpless”.

“With how his life has started, he’s come out a fighter”, Cunningham said.

Survival rates have improved for premature babies

Although it is not yet clear when Cheance will be able to be discharged from hospital, the improvements in medical care over recent decades mean that many more premature babies are surviving with better outcomes. The last time the abortion limit was lowered in 1990, the improved survival rates for extremely prematurely born babies was one of the key considerations that motivated this change.

By the same logic, and informed by the improved survival rates for babies born at 22 and 23 weeks gestation, the abortion time limit should also be lowered now.

Key studies in recent years have documented the improving outcomes for these babies. A 2008 study looking at survival rates for a neonatal intensive care unit in London found that neonatal survival rates at 22 and 23 weeks gestation had improved over time. In 1981-85, no babies who were born at these gestational ages survived to discharge. However, by 1986-90, 19% did and this increased to 54% in the period 1996-2000.

In the decade to 2019 alone, the survival rate for extremely premature babies born at 23 weeks doubled, prompting new guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) that enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks gestation. The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, set the standard that babies who were born before 23 weeks gestation should not be resuscitated.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said

“We send all our best wishes to baby Cheance and his family and hope that he continues to make improvements and that he will be able to be discharged home very soon. So many premature babies show their fighting spirit in the first few weeks and months of their lives, and it is crucial that these stories are told so that legislators recognise the humanity of these smallest members of our society and reflect this in our laws.”

Categories: Premature babies