Little Ariana Cruz-Gutierrez weighed just 12 ounces when she was born 16 weeks prematurely in March.
Doctors in Annapolis, Maryland did not think Ariana would survive, but the little girl fought through myriad medical issues and lived. Fox 5 News reports Ariana’s parents took her home from Anne Arundel Medical Center for the first time on Thursday.
According to the hospital, Ariana is the smallest baby ever to be born there and survive. She was born weighing about as much as three sticks of butter.
Initially, her parents said they were devastated when she was born on March 9 after just 24 weeks in the womb.
Her father, Oscar Gutierrez, told the Capital Gazette that Ariana was not breathing when she was born, but they decided to resuscitate her.
“We felt like we wanted to die. But now that we’ve thought of it, it was the best decision we made. Truthfully, when they told us the baby could die, our life changed completely,” he said.
Gutierrez said they thank God for blessing them with Ariana and saving her life.
Ariana spent almost five months in the neo-natal intensive care unit where she received transfusions, intubations and other care to save her tiny life; at one point, her weight dropped to just 8 ounces, according to the report. Now, she weighs 4 pounds, 15 ounces and is doing well.
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Earlier this summer, another very premature infant also was released from the hospital in Oklahoma after being born weighing under 1 pound. Emily Rose Hollins, like Ariana, weighed only 12 ounces when she was born at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
More micro-preemies like Ariana and Emily are surviving outside the womb thanks to modern medical technology.
A Duke University study published in January found babies born at just 23 weeks gestation are surviving outside the womb at a greater rate than ever before. Researchers examined 4,500 babies between 2000 and 2011 and found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting with neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.
Research published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that 23 percent of premature infants are surviving birth as early as 22 weeks. The study also found that some hospitals are not giving babies treatment at this early age, despite talk about pushing back the standard viability line from 24 weeks to 23.