Even before the baby girl was born, doctors knew she was going to be small. She was being delivered by emergency Caesarean section after disbursement only 23 weeks and three years in gestation because her mother was suffering from preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that can slow a baby’s growth in the womb.
But as Paul Wozniak, a neonatologist at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns in San Diego, stood in the delivery room last December looking down at the baby he had just been handed, he was shocked.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe how small she is,’ ” Wozniak told The Washington Post. The doctors had anticipated the baby would be around 400 grams, or slightly less than 1 pound, but she was even tinier. “We weren’t expecting anyone this small,” he aforementioned.
On Wednesday, the hospital announced that the baby, nicknamed “Saybie” by her nurses and doctors, was born deliberation 8.6 ounces (245 grams), which means she is now believed to be the world’s smallest living baby. According to the Tiniest Babies register, a information maintained by the University of Iowa, Saybie weighed seven grams less than the title’s previous holder, a baby girl born in Germany in 2015.
“For comparison, at birth she was roughly the same weight as a large apple or a child’s juice box,” Trisha Khaleghi, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief executive, aforementioned during a news conference.
Despite her small size and the host of health complications that can possibly be deadly for a “micro-preemie,” or a premature baby born before 28 weeks, Saybie lived. After nearly five months in the baby intensive care unit, Saybie’s parents, who wished to remain anonymous, took their “healthy 5-pound baby” home earlier this month, the hospital aforementioned.
“I was stunned, frankly,” Wozniak aforementioned, adding that he spoke with Saybie’s mother on Wednesday and she told him her girl was up to 6 pounds 2 ounces “and doing great.”
Saybie’s outlook, however, wasn’t always so positive.
It all began on that December day when Saybie’s mother suddenly didn’t feel right.
“It was the scariest day of my life,” the mother aforementioned in a video discharged by the hospital on Wednesday. “I just felt very uncomfortable, and I thought possibly this is part of the gestation.”
Doctors shortly au courant her that she had preeclampsia, which can cause high blood pressure. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, or even fatal, complications for some the mother and baby, according to the mayo Clinic.
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During Wednesday’s news conference, Danu Chortkoff, the OB/GYN who delivered Saybie, aforementioned the mother had “severely elevated blood pressure” and that if the baby’s life were to be saved, she needed to come out.
“I unbroken telling them she’s not going to survive, she’s only 23 weeks,” the mother aforementioned in the video. A typical gestation is 40 weeks.
Nationally, the survival rate for babies born around the same time as Saybie is about 20 percentage, Wozniak told The Post. Several studies from recent years report equally grim statistics.
When Saybie was born in December, she wasn’t breathing, but “had a good heart rate,” Wozniak aforementioned. He aforementioned her parents distinct that if she had a heart rate “they wanted everything done.”
Wozniak aforementioned the hospital has had its fair share of “23-weekers,” but Saybie’s diminutive size, which was caused in part by the preeclampsia, made her situation all the more challenging. It was difficult to find properly sized instrumentality, he aforementioned, noting that even the baby intensive care unit revival beds’ constitutional scales were unable to register her weight because they couldn’t go below 300 grams.
The first thing Wozniak and his team had to do was put in a breathing tube. One about the size of a juice-box straw needed to be cut down before it was with success inserted, he aforementioned. Saybie was warm up, dried off and given medicine to help her breathe, he aforementioned.
Then, all they could do was wait.
“We just sat by her side the first six hours,” Wozniak aforementioned. “I thought her chances of making it probably weren’t good. I told the folks every hour I would update them, but there’s a good chance she’s going to die.”
The mother aforementioned in the video that she recalled doctors telling Saybie’s father that he would only have about an hour with the newborn before she passed away.
“But that hour turned into two hours, which turned into a day, which turned into a week,” she aforementioned.
As nurses and doctors watched Saybie slowly improve and gain weight, they continued to worry about the variety of dangerous medical challenges “micro-preemies” can face. It is not uncommon for brain bleeds and metabolism organ and heart issues to occur, but much to everyone’s surprise, Saybie “experienced about none” of those complications, the hospital aforementioned.
“She’s a miracle, that’s for sure,” Kim Norby, one of the baby intensive care unit nurses who cared for Saybie, aforementioned in the hospital’s video.
In the video, colorful signs could be seen plastered on the walls around Saybie’s crib. Some unbroken track of her weight and other milestones. “No more breathing tube,” one read. “Tiny But Mighty,” some other declared.
Saybie unbroken astounding doctors with her progress even up until the day she was discharged, Wozniak aforementioned.
“Many babies like this go home on O, which I thought she probably would, but no, she weaned off of it,” he aforementioned, adding that she was besides breast-feeding well and didn’t need a feeding tube. “The fact that she’s done so well is just so much a reward, and just makes the whole team feel wonderful.”
Though Saybie appears to have defied the odds for now, Wozniak aforementioned that could change as she gets older. Premature babys, especially those born as early as Saybie, may develop mild vision problems, fine motor issues, language delays or other learning disabilities, which don’t always show up until the babies are school age, he aforementioned. For the next several years, Wozniak aforementioned Saybie will be making regular visits to the hospital’s Nemeth baby intensive care unit Follow-Up Clinic, which is intended to help promote the growth and success of preterm babies.
Still, Saybie’s story should inspire hope among parents and medical professionals, Wozniak aforementioned.
“It lets everyone know that it is possible,” he aforementioned.