Little miracle Oscar is a politician in the making as he greets Leo in new neonatal unit
Little Oscar Nolan has already made a dramatic debut, surprising pregnant mum Deborah Larkin by arriving at 28 weeks a few days before Christmas and weighing in at just around 2lb.
And he took a VIP visit from Health Minister Leo Varadkar and a battery of cameras at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St yesterday in his stride - although he looked like he might have preferred being in his own nice, comfortable cot at home in Arklow.
Deborah and her partner Paul Nolan were taking Oscar home for the first time after he was nursed to good health in the hospital's new €6m neonatal unit, which looks after some of the sickest babies in the country.
Oscar now weighs just under 5lb and is among a growing army of little miracles who benefit from modern neonatal care.
Mr Varadkar said the new unit was an essential investment despite plans to move the hospital to the site of St Vincent's Hospital.
He said: "Thirty years ago most of the children who would have gone to this unit would have died. Now the vast majority survive and it is important we have as modern an infrastructure as possible."
Hospital Master Dr Rhona Mahony described the old facilities as cramped and "under the eaves" of the old building. The new facility is at the heart of the hospital, she said.
Neonatologist Dr John Murphy said around 10 babies from around the country are transferred to the unit each week. The most premature could be born at 24 weeks, with the smallest weighing just 1lb 2 oz.
"It is the prematurity rather than the weight that is the issue. The survival rate is going up and up. Once you get to 28 weeks, you get to 90pc survival rate. It's due to a combination of antenatal care, the quality of resuscitation they get, the quality of the oxygen and support and all that intravenous feeding."
He said over 50pc of babies who now receive cooling treatment after suffering a lack of oxygen during birth make a good recovery.
"I think in the future they will have various medications they can add to the cooling. Once you get your foot in the door with a treatment you can continue to modify it to make it more effective."