Charles Lindenberg as premature baby in 1996 after he was born at just 25 weeks.
Charles Lindenberg as premature baby in 1996 after he was born at just 25 weeks.

25-week preemie baby defies odds: Mum speaks out

WHEN Tressa Lindenberg started haemorrhaging at just 25 weeks pregnant she didn't think she or her unborn son would make it out alive.

The Toowoomba woman had been living in Papua New Guinea and said she had planned to return to Australia eight weeks before her baby was born, not 15 weeks.

With no facility to help Ms Lindenberg she knew she had to make it out of the country if they had any chance of survival.

A medivac flight was eventually organised to Townsville, where she was stabilised and flown to the Mater Mother's Hospital along with her then 10-year-old son Nick and six-year-old daughter Yasmin by her side.

The baby's heart rate dropped dramatically after Ms Lindenberg arrived at the Mater and a tiny Charles was delivered via emergency caesarean section weighing just 877g on August 7, 1996.

After a traumatic start to life, Charles will turn 21 on Monday despite having just a 40 per cent of survival when he was born.

"It was the most unexpected thing. I had two healthy children and I didn't think it would end this way," Ms Lindenberg said.


Neonatal nurse Suzanne Bates, Tressa Lindenberg, son Charles and Dr Peter Gray at the Mater Mother's neonatal critical care unit.
TOUGH START: Celebrating Charles Lindenberg's (second right) upcoming 21st birthday are (from left) neonatal nurse Suzanne Bates, mum Tressa Lindenberg and Dr Peter Gray at the Mater Mother's neonatal critical care unit. cONTRIBUTED

"We didn't think we would make it out alive. I was three minutes apart and haemorrhaging so we are lucky to be here."

Charles eventually got to come home to Toowoomba on Christmas Eve the same year and was on oxygen for six months and suffered seizures for three years.

He has cerebral palsy, but despite that is a happy and healthy young man who graduated from Concordia Lutheran College, got his driver's licence, has a full-time job and is a few months into a degree studying IT and International Studies at the University of Southern Queensland.

"It wasn't looking good for Charlie at all," Ms Lindenberg said of Charles' start to life.

"He was baptised in the hospital and we were told the chances of him walking and talking weren't great.

"But I think it was a mother's instinct that it would be ok."


Charles Lindenberg on his first day of school, Tuesday, January 21, 2003.
Charles Lindenberg on his first day of school in 2003. Nev Madsen

Ms Lindenberg said despite some really hard times, especially in the first 12 months and multiple operations throughout his life, they had always been positive.

"I know I am his mother but anyone who knows Charlie never walks away without thinking what an amazing young man he is," she said.

Ms Lindenberg said Charles grabbed every opportunity he could, and even jumped out of a plane with her as part of her Mother's Day present this year.

"People ask me, 'how do you think he got to become so good' and it was about family really and getting the job done and getting where you needed to go," she said.

To mark his 21st birthday, Ms Lindenberg and Charles took a trip down memory lane at the Mater Mother's Neonatal Critical Care Unit to say thank you to the doctors and nurses, including neonatal nurse Suzanne Bates who cared for him.

Charles' family and friends will mark his 21st birthday tonight with a big celebration.