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Baby Alba meets angels who helped bring her home after premature birth in Ukraine

By Merryn Porter |

For four months, they kept supporters informed of the fight to bring home little Alba C the Australian baby born prematurely to a surrogate in the Ukraine just before the Russian invasion.

Sarah and Kara, friends of Alba's parents, Jess and Kevin Van Nooten, of Melbourne, started a MyCause crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of bringing Alba back to Australia and regularly shared updates and photos on her progress on the their Instagram account.

Now, two months after she finally made it to Australia, all three women have been reunited for the first time, and it also marked the first time Kara met little Alba.

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Together again. Jess and baby Alba, centre, with friends Sarah and Kara. (Instagram)

Baby Alba was born on February 22, at just 28 weeks gestation, after her Ukrainian surrogate went into premature labour just before the Russian invasion.

She weighed just 1500 grams and suffered collapsed lungs and a bleed on her brain after her birth. Her parents were thousands of kilometres away in Melbourne and began a desperate fight to reach their baby girl

They immediately booked their flights to Ukraine to meet her and "be by her side." However, due to the conflict, their entry into the country was suddenly cancelled, leaving them stranded in Dubai's airport.

They eventually made it to Poland where they spent weeks desperately trying to find a way to get to their daughter, before finally making it to her bedside in the neonatal intensive care unit in Odessa in March.

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Baby Alba is now six months old. (Instagram)

After undergoing the first of four brain surgeries there, she was later medically evacuated to Moldova and then onto the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children London, where she underwent months of treatment, including three more brain surgeries.

Her devoted parents remained by her side, with Kev only returning to Australia in May to work, at which time Jess's mum flew to London.

At the end of May, Alba finally left hospital but needed to stay in accommodation in London until she was well enough to fly home.

She also had to undergo special tests to make sure her lungs could withstand the flight. When it was finally time to fly home, she was accompanied by a nurse from Great Ormond Street Hospital's Children's Acute Transport Unit.

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Jess with Alba, soon after she reached her side in Ukraine. (Instagram)

She was then transported by ambulance to The Royal Children's Hospital for Women in Melbourne where she was monitored for the next two days before finally being discharged.

None of this would have been possible without the $79,208 raised by the couple's friends and the public.

In an emotional post yesterday, Jess introduced her followers to the two women who made it all possible.

"You all might not know these faces but Sarah and Kara started this page for me when Alba was born," she wrote. "These two are also to thank for the @mycause.com.au page that literally saved our lives and to everyone who generously made a donation, thank you.

"I haven't been able to read the comments yet, it makes me too emotional but I will when I can.

"Alba finally got to meet Kara. We went to 'lunch' at daddy's restaurant and we had a trip to Geelong to see Sarah (second time for Alba, and Sarah saw so many changes in Alba). We had a lovely day!"

Alba and dad Kevin after finally arriving home. (Instagram)

Jess said Alba also reached a major milestone this week cracking the five kilogram mark, adding "this is a huge milestone for us!"

"Thanks for all the support can you believe Alba is nearly 6 months old! 15 weeks corrected. Life has been crazy. She is feeding and sleeping well and we thank God and our surrogate every day."

Alba recently returned to hospital for more surgery and will undergo regular check-ups and therapies.

In the meantime, they are enjoying their first taste of normal family life, including their first mother's group.

"Literally a day I have been dreaming of for years," wrote Jess.

"It has been so nice to do a few things this week not 'medically' related. This is what maternity leave is all about!"

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