An Arizona family celebrated Monday when their premature baby girl finally was deemed well enough to go home from the hospital.
Kallie Bender, of Gilbert, Arizona, weighed less than 1 pound when she was born in May, the Daily Mail reports. She spent 150 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
Today, the little girl weighs 7 pounds and still depends on an oxygen tank and feeding tube, but her family is glad she is alive, Fox 10 Phoenix reports.
Ebonie Bender, her mother, told the Daily Mail that she and her husband, Dameon, were happy to find out that Kallie was a girl after having three sons.
From the beginning, however, Bender said her pregnancy was considered high risk because she had blood pressure problems. She went to the doctor frequently for check-ups and, at 24 weeks of pregnancy, was admitted to the hospital, according to the report.
Several days later, doctors recommended an emergency delivery as the best hope to keep Kallie alive. She was born weighing 13.1 ounces and measuring 10.5 inches, smaller than an average doll, the report continues.
Here’s more from the Mail:
Kallie spent the next several months on a machine called an oscillator to help her breath as she continued to grow and her lungs slowly became stronger.
She also had one operation in June to repair a hole between the two major blood vessels that carry blood from her heart to her body, a condition called patent ductus arteriosus.
Luckily, Kallie did not suffer from any brain bleeds or infections that are common in baby born as early as she was.
‘I’m grateful that, in spite of the health challenges that she did have, it could have been a lot worse,’ Bender said.
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Every day, the Benders said they made the 40-minute drive to the hospital to visit their daughter. They said they are so thankful to all the hospital staff who helped take care of her.
“We’ve some such a long way and, coming here every day, I see faces every day and I’m going to miss seeing those,” her mother said. “But it’s sweet because I don’t have to make this commute anymore.”
Modern medical advances are enabling younger and smaller premature babies to survive and thrive. The smallest recorded surviving baby weighed less than 9 ounces at birth. Born in California in December 2018, baby Saybie was deemed well enough to go home in May.
The earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s survival story.
Research published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 23 percent of premature infants are surviving as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. However, the study also found that some hospitals do not treat babies at this early age.