Phoenix star's infant 'like a baby bird'
The son of Phoenix star fought for survivalBRONWYN TORRIE
Cameron Sigmund came into the world fighting for his life and weighing less than two blocks of butter.
Now, the son of Wellington Phoenix and All White Ben Sigmund is a healthy, happy two-year-old thanks to a series of life-saving blood transfusions.
He was born at 24 weeks at Wellington Hospital and spent the first four months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with his mum Deanna at his side.
"He looked like a baby bird without feathers. He was bright orange like baby birds and transparent, you could see pretty much all his veins.''
Mrs Sigmund, 30, could fit her engagement ring over Cameron's wrist. The tiny infant weighed just 715 grams.
While in hospital he received 10 small blood transfusions which enabled his body and organs to grow so he could survive on his own.
"That, at the time for me was quite scary because obviously you think oh God someone else's blood. But obviously it saved his life. He's gone from strength to strength because of somebody giving up their precious time. To go in and anonymously donate blood and not even think anything of it ... that's a pretty amazing gift for us.''
Babies are given 15 millilitres of blood for every kilogram they weigh, so Cameron's first transfusions would have been less than that.
A week after the birth Mr Sigmund, 31, flew to South Africa with the All Whites to play in the Football World Cup.
"The hardest part was actually leaving, saying goodbye but when you know there is a job to be done as well for New Zealand it was quite tough to focus on both things.''
While away at the six-week long world cup, Cameron had heart surgery to open a valve that was closed.
Apart from being slightly smaller than other kids of his age and having chronic lung disease, which he will grow out of, Cameron is a healthy, bubbly, character.
Speaking at the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Blood Service, the Sigmunds urged people to spare an hour or so to give blood and save a life.
Every 12 minutes a New Zealander receives a life-saving blood transfusion or blood product, but the number of people donating is declining.
About 2000 voluntary donors had dropped off the blood service register, which aims to have at least 90,000 donors throughout the country.
Throughout the year, staff had re-enrolled more than 8900 people who had dropped off and added a 14,500 new donors, spokesman Paul Hayes said.
"With just weeks to go before our official year-end on 30 June, we are recording a net loss of around 2,000 people from our donor register, which we'd like to recoup.
"Doing so ensures a larger group of donors are available to share the load of supplying more than 140,000 units of life-saving blood to our health services in the year ahead.''
Each year about 42,000 New Zealanders need blood or blood products, which means the blood service needs to collect about 3000 donations each week.
There is no alternative for patients in need of blood or blood products - blood donors save lives, Mr Hayes said.
Less than 4 per cent of eligible New Zealanders currently donate blood.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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