International Missionary Fellowship - Premature Infant Rescue

Intensive care usually connotes lots of technology, especially related to premature infants with low birth weight. Vigilant would probably be a better word to describe the care we are able to give the little ones who come to us. The care we deliver is definitely trailing edge technology but it is nonetheless beyond the ability of the parents of the premature babies in our area to deliver. The care is delivered in our home, around the clock, with love as a primary component.

A low birth weight infant has so little fatty tissue that hypothermia is a serious potential concern. Our solution to this is about as low-tech as it gets: blankets and a hot water bottle. A premature infant is often too weak to nurse effectively. We usually begin frequent feeding with a medicine dropper or bottle, as tolerated. Often they are just not ready for this so we place a small bore feeding tube orally and give premie specific formula in frequent small amounts. Feedings, either by mouth or via feeding tube, usually begin at 2 mls. each hour and increase as tolerated. Aspiration of the feeding into the lungs is always a potential problem so incremental feeding increases must be done with care and close observation. If an infant has adequately developed lungs and no medical complications other than being premature and low weight, the likelihood of survival is quite good and monitoring their progress exciting.

We have cared for 55 infants who have survived; sadly, not all do. The babies we have cared for have ranged in weight from less than a kilogram (1 lb. 14 oz.) to 2.5 kilograms (5 lbs. 7 0z.) and have stayed with us for from one to ten weeks. Some have had complications: HIV, septicemia, liver and or renal problems, meningitis, tetanus, underdeveloped lungs & pneumonia. Infrequently, we have to administer IV antibiotics.

Unless there is a medical or family reason that precludes their involvement, the parents, at least the mother, are encouraged to be involved. We encourage daily extended visits and, if able, require the mother to supply breast milk, which we combine with the formula. Getting one of these little ones to a point where they can return to their family and thrive can be challenging and exhausting at times. It is nonetheless tremendously rewarding and a tangible witness of the love of Christ to the family and community.


Since the premature infants are low birth weight they typically need to be fed small amounts every hour for the first days.

Feedings often commence with a medicine dropper 1 or 2 mls at a time.

Often they are too weak to suck effectively and need a feeding tube in the short term. An example is shown in the photo above. We nicknamed her Sweetgirl.

Our goal is always to get the infant back to his or her family as soon as possible.

Since they have virtually no fatty tissue they are prone to rapid heat loss. We warm them with a hot water bottle and blankets.

Premature Infant Rescue News

How is our most recent Premie doing? Each one has unique circumstances. Read stories and see photos of recent infants.

Premature Infant Rescue Ministry Needs

Status: Fully funded

Supplemental Milk Program Needs

Status: 100% funded
More details