Family bids to get premature baby home to Wales from Vietnam

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Media captionJessica Jones was told her daughter Aurelia had just 5% chance of surviving when she was born

A couple is trying to get their baby back to Wales from Vietnam after she was born almost three months early.

Jessica Jones and Alfredo Duenas’s daughter Aurelia was born by emergency Caesarean section in Hanoi in October.

Aurelia, who weighed 2lb 1oz (970g), could not breathe unaided, has under-developed organs and a heart defect.

Ms Jones, 36, from Borth-y-Gest, Gwynedd, said she spent the first few months of her daughter’s life “thinking she was going to die”.

She works as a teacher in Vietnam, where she has been living with her Mexican husband for a year and a half.

Ms Jones’s waters broke at 05:00 on 10 October and she had Aurelia by 11:00 at just 27 weeks.

She said doctors told her there was a 5% chance her baby would survive if she had a Caesarean section and 2% or 3% if she had a natural birth.

Among her other health problems, Aurelia also has retinopathy of prematurity – which can lead to blindness – and needs reconstructive surgery on her nose after her septum was eroded by tubes providing air.

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Jessica Jones

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Aurelia is Alfredo Duenas and Jessica Jones’s only child

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Jessica Jones

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Jessica Jones says she plans to live with her parents in Porthmadog when they return to Wales

She spent spent two-and-a-half months in hospital before being discharged on Christmas Eve.

“To be told I was in labour and giving me a 5% chance of survival was one of the hardest things to hear,” she said.

The couple had to use translators – and their phones – to communicate with doctors and nurses, but even with interpreters, they were left struggling to understand what was happening to their daughter.

“There aren’t any words that can really do justice to the amount of trauma we’ve gone through – thinking your baby is going to die for the first three months and looking at them through a plastic box,” Ms Jones said.

The couple are now trying to raise £15,000 to get Aurelia back to the UK so she can have the best possible care.

Ms Jones said Aurelia needed to have surgery on her nose done now to prevent further damage and to give surgeons in the future the best chance of reconstructing her septum.

“Working on premature babies and such small craniofacial surgery of that magnitude is incredibly specialised and that just makes you appreciate so much what the NHS does and offers,” she said.

“The care and treatment that babies and children receive is second to none, and unfortunately living here it means she is suffering and is not able to have access to a higher standard of treatment.”

She added: “She needs extra help and care and unfortunately it isn’t here for her.”

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Jessica Jones

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Jessica Jones and Alfredo Duena married in April 2017 and moved to Vietnam that August

Money will go towards flying her home – due to her poor immune system, they have been advised to fly business class rather than economy in order to avoid the large number of people in a small space.

Ms Jones said: “It’s been the only thing keeping me going is the thought of being able to go home, have some support from family and friends and the NHS.

“I cannot describe how much I’m counting the seconds until we can get her on that plane.”

It will also fund the cost of getting to and from hospital when they are back in Wales, as well as the fact they will not be able to work while caring for Aurelia.

They have so far raised more than £9,000 in donations from people across the world.

“Words fail us – the kindness of strangers has been overwhelming – everybody has been blown away, it’s been amazing,” Ms Jones added.

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Jessica Jones

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Aurelia is now out of hospital but will still need treatment

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Jessica Jones

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Aurelia – who was not due to be born until 10 January – now weighs about 6lb 7oz

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