Miss Tamara Aghadiuno, was born a micro preemie, at 24 weeks of gestation with a birth weight of 1 lb.8oz and her survival has turned out to be an inspiration not just to others, but to her as well because it spurred her into helping other children born in the same condition.
Tamara who hails from Onitsha, Anambra State, was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America on August 14th 2005. She was immediately diagnosed with a stage 4 hydrocephalus (excess bleeding in the brain), heart disorder or VSD (Hole in the heart) and a long list of other issues according to her mother. She said doctors and people around told her to start making funeral arrangements as they didn’t think Tamara would make it past two weeks. By the special grace of God, she fought her way to life and her survival has become an inspiration and why it is very important that premature babies are given a chance to thrive in this world where they can equally be great like other children with normal birth.
Now in Primary five, ten years after, she grew up hearing everything she passed through after birth and it inspired her into what she is doing today. In her words, she said: “I grew up hearing about my personal struggles and victories in the intensive care unit. This aroused a desire in me to associate with other premature babies and give back to that community. I asked my mum to help me and with her encouragement, I was able to reach out. Now I have a lot of little friends”.
Now residing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, Tamara Aghadiuno with the help of her mother, has set up Preemie Power, a Non-Governmental and Nonprofit Making Organization that provides support and succor for prematurely born babies in Nigeria. She said that her goal is to bring awareness to communities and bridge the gap between the highly developed communities and the developing world, through the encouragement of proper training of Neonatal staff; providing proper medical equipment specifically designed for premature care; educating mothers on how to take proper care of their preemies; providing basic needs for premature babies, and more.
Lack of facilities and education have seen high mortality rate for premature babies in Africa especially and most of these children would have survived if they were to be in other developed nations. Micro preemies (babies born between 23 – 26 weeks of gestation) are the biggest victims because 90% of them die in Africa.
With Preemie Power launched this year, as Tamara turned 10 years, she tends to combine her victim and survivor experience to help other children. She said: “Being a victim and a survivor of premature delivery myself, I have the heart of giving and of kindness towards premature children. I feel that with my help, more premature lives could be saved and provided for. I have firsthand knowledge and experience of what it means to be a premature child”
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Her activities include visiting hospitals and intensive care wards where the preemies live and reaching it out to them by providing for their needs. She sources for support of good hearted Nigerians and Organizations to achieve this and she hopes to keep expanding her reach out horizon until Nigeria can compete with the western world in caring for preemies.
Aside lack of specialized equipment, which has become the bedrock of the challenges facing the caring of the preemies in Nigeria, she also cited lack of trained neonatal staff as another major challenge, because in most of the hospital she visited, the regular pediatricians are also the primary doctor caring for the premature children.
Tamara referred to this as an unacceptable condition, urging relevant authorities to see that highly trained Neonatal doctors and nurses are employed in hospitals to handle these units.
She also called for the provision of preemie needs like clothing, bottles, diapers, beanies, etc. saying they are necessities that help the preemie and their caregivers have a more comfortable stay in the Intensive care unit and beyond. According to her, these materials, are not available and in most cases, the available is made desirable, because the ones designed specifically for them are not available.
Tamara is urging well-meaning Nigerians, government and corporate organizations to stand up and come to the aid of the premature babies in Nigeria and not just working towards their survival, but also seeing that they make it through the stigmatization that mostly follows. She is also advocating for education of mothers of these children in handling the issue, taking care of their children and also helping their children grow up normally like other normal children in the country.
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