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Beliefnet News

1 lb, 2 oz at birth, South African “miracle baby” kept alive in a sandwich bag

She weighed 1 pound, 2 ounces at birth and spent her first three days on life support inside a plastic sandwich bag.

Allegra Lategan was delivered during an emergency Caesarian on July 29 at 22 weeks.

“South Africa’s miracle baby spent her first three days after birth tucked away in a plastic sandwich bag,” writes Shanaaz Eggington in the South African daily newspaper the Times. “It was the only way doctors could keep her paper-thin skin intact.”

“Nothing was ready,” explains the baby’s doctor, neonatologist Ricky Dippenaar. “Her heart, lungs and brain weren’t ready. Even her skin didn’t have three layers. Even now, she is technically only 29 weeks in gestational age.”


Allegra is the daughter of construction engineer Hennie Lategan and his wife, Chantal, an elementary school teacher, both 29.

She was allowed to hold Allegra for the first time on September 9, 42 days after the birth. “It was magic. I wanted to cry and I wanted to laugh. I did both and asked my husband to wipe away my tears … because I could not have them falling on her,” she told Eggington.

“Technically, babies are only fully developed at 34 weeks,” explains Dr. Dippenaar. “But even then, it doesn’t mean that all systems are working yet. There are many factors that come into play. We wanted to make sure that she is doing well before we told the world about our little angel.”


Because she was so small, Allegra was moved to an incubator upon delivery, but could not be dried, as her skin was too fragile. Secretions were suctioned from her lungs and a breathing tube inserted. The sandwich bag maintained her temperature and protected her skin, writes Eggington:

“With tiny babies, all movement has to be very slow and stable. If you carry them slightly upside down, it can alter their blood pressure, which can cause bleeding in the brain,” said Dippenaar.

“Small babies can take up to five hours to hook up to a ventilator and to insert all the intravenous drips. When we are born, we have two arteries and a vein in our belly button, through which we got our nourishment from our mother. We simply reinsert the drips there. Then we step back and leave them to grow. No light, no sound, minimal handling. We don’t fiddle with them. We recreate the environment in the womb.”


He said Allegra’s will to live played a key role in her survival. Dippenaar applauded the “team effort” that contributed to Allegra’s survival. “A baby like Allegra creates a roller coaster of emotions. We had to make sure that the parents could cope with it, as there was a significant chance of her dying.”

Allegra is expected home in about two months.

Said her dad: “I’m too scared to hold her yet.

“But nothing beats the feeling I get when she grabs hold of my finger and holds on for dear life.”

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment H Du Toit

    knowing Chantal and Hennie, this is a miracle which brought so many people closer , building faith in each other and show that with prayer everything is possible.It was not an easy road for any of us, but we have reached this stage by standing together with God in charge. Thanks to the doctors, nurses and especially to Chantal and Hennie and there parents who never gave up hope or prayer. The road ahead might still bring hurdles to overcome, but this little miracle named Allegra will overcome it all and be a blessing to all in her life.May God be with you all.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Suzanne Shade

    The Lord has a very special purpose for Allegra.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nneka

    This story gives me hope. As the mother of a baby who was stillborn at 37 weeks gestation, I have become the member of a community who have had to say goodbye to their babies too soon.

    Praying for Baby Allegra to live a long fruitful life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment sandra jordan

    May God hold the 3 of you gentley in the plam of his hands.GOD BLESS YOU, YOU ARE IN MY PRAYER. SANDRA J

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment BARBARA

    You know GOD has His hand in this and that the baby will grow and survive..What a miracle for us to behold..Keep going little baby.. Mom and dad are waiting to take you home..

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment gladys ezeokafor

    I really thank the Almighty God for this wonderful thing he did. I know what it means for a baby of this type to survive and what the parents are going through now because I am also a miracle baby of triplet, who almost lost her mother but this God revived her after 1 good week in comma.
    I named this baby “wonderful”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment gladys ezeokafor

    I also named her in my Nigeria language Ebubechukwu, Ihechukwumere

    What a miraculous God

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment gladys ezeokafor

    I am full of praise to Omniscience God for the life of this wonderful baby (Victoria) because God has given her victory right from the womb to destroy every works of the devil. She must live because God has said it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Strong little girl!! Female power!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Paula B. Guest

    I pray that one day she will sing the praises of the Lord!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment dvanilla

    This is awesome the work that God does through those who work in the medical field. Keep up the good work.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Patt

    Bless this little angel.

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