HE might not have the muscles of his namesake, the fictional warrior Conan the Barbarian, but this little fighter has certainly proved his mettle in his 18 months on earth.
Conan Waugh was one of the smallest babies ever born in Scotland when he arrived 15 weeks early in June last year, weighing only 1lb 7oz.
His parents, Sian and Robert Waugh, 37, spent 112 dark days by his side at the Simpson’s Special Care Baby Unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary as the little boy endured two blood transfusions to help him gain strength.
It is impossible to tell now that the healthy toddler once weighed less than a bag of sugar, said proud mum Sian.
The 36-year-old had been suffering from minor back pain but she put it down to lifting boxes as the family had recently moved to a new house to Gorebridge, Midlothian.
But when she went to have it checked out, doctors said her baby would about to be born after only 25 weeks.
Sian, who worked for a building services company before becoming a mother, said: “His early arrival was a huge shock, but we called him our little fighter.
“He was so tiny when he was born, about the size of a guinea pig. But he was kicking and crying already. They had to intubate him [place a tube in, to the trachea for mechanical ventilation] but I could see he had a feisty spirit.”
Just two days after he was born, doctors discovered a haemorrhage in his tiny lungs and Conan needed an emergency blood transfusion.
The newborn fought for his life in the unit, first using a ventilator and then later using a continuous positive airway pressure machine which helped him to breathe as his lungs to developed.
A second blood transfusion followed just weeks later.
Now Sian has spoken out to urge people to give blood to save other babies like Conan as donations traditionally drop by up to 20 per cent during the festive period. She said: “Although the blood he received was only a tiny amount we immediately started calling blood transfusions ‘the tonic’ as the improvement in his health was so remarkable.
“He then needed another transfusion a few weeks later when his oxygen levels dipped again. Without these transfusions, we know he wouldn’t be here.”
The proud parents were finally able to take Conan home on October 3 – a week after his original due date – as the little boy had reached a solid weight of 8lb 4oz. Sian said: “Today you would never know he was premature. People sometimes don’t believe me when I tell them as he’s so feisty.”
Just three teaspoons of blood can save the life of a premature baby like Conan, said Dr Moira Carter, associate director of donor services at Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS).
She said: “This story highlights how making a regular commitment to donating blood does save people’s lives.
“We are asking everyone to give blood during 2016 to help us meet the transfusion needs of patients in Scotland.”
The SNBTS requires 550 blood donations every day to meet the needs of patients in Scotland. Each of the eight blood groups must be maintained at five to seven days’ supply and there is a particular demand for O negative and O positive donations. Register on 0345 90 90 999.