Baby Ethan Born Weighing Less Than a Tub of Butter is Mum’s Miracle

May 14, 2023

A tiny Toowoomba baby born more than three months early weighing less than a tub of butter has defied the odds, making Mother’s Day extra special for first time mum Emma Willis.

Baby Ethan Harbort was born at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in South Brisbane on 24 October, at just 26 weeks gestation. He weighed 487 grams and needed life-saving treatment throughout his four-month stay in hospital.

Ms Willis, from Murphy’s Creek, had a hereditary kidney disorder and developed hypertension during pregnancy, leading to Ethan’s early arrival. 

Mater Neonatologist Dr Richard Mausling said scans done at Mater Mothers’ Hospital showed Ethan was “severely growth restricted” due to his mum’s illness.

“Ethan certainly defied the odds throughout his stay in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit given his birth weight,” Dr Mausling said.

“Ethan had a severe infection five days after being born, and if it were not for the teamwork and intensive care support that he received during that time, there is no question that he wouldn’t have survived.” 

Dr Mausling said Ethan received around -the-clock specialist life-saving care from a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team at Mater.

Ms Willis, 34, was told by doctors at her 24-week pregnancy scan that her unborn son was ‘really small’.

“I was really scared as I didn’t know if he would make it. I wasn’t allowed to leave hospital until Ethan was born and was focused on keeping him in as long as I could,” she said.

Ms Willis and 34-year-old partner Matthew had always wanted a family, but didn’t expect their firstborn child to arrive 14 weeks early.

It was three days before Ms Willis could hold her tiny son for the first time, a memory she will never forget.

“He was so small, the size of my partner’s hand,” she said.

“It was touch and go a few times while Ethan was in hospital – we are pretty lucky to have him here with us. 

“He battled sepsis, jaundice, and breathing difficulties.”

With Ethan now out of hospital and thriving, Ms Willis said she was looking forward to spending Mother’s Day with her little miracle and marrying her fiancé in a few weeks.

“We have been through a lot in a short period of time. What the medical, nursing and midwifery teams at Mater have done for both Ethan and I is unbelievable. Without them, Ethan wouldn’t be here.”

The couple will tie the knot on 27 May, with little Ethan by their side.

Although Ethan requires regular paediatric check-ups at Mater for h a chronic lung condition, he is otherwise a healthy baby and is reaching his key milestones, recently tipping the scales at more than 4kg.

“He’s very cuddly and has his own personality. He’s a cheeky little thing,” Ms Willis said.

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