22-Week-Old Premature Baby Weighing Just One Pound Goes Home Healthy

International   Micaiah Bilger   May 19, 2020   |   7:49PM    Norfolk, England

A tiny baby girl who was born four months before her due date was released from the hospital this month to go home with her parents.

Sky News reports Lilly was born at 22 weeks of pregnancy, weighing 1 pound, 2 ounces. Born Dec. 9, the British infant struggled through numerous health problems, including a brain bleed, infections and a major surgery, according to the report. Her parents and doctors feared for her life, but Lilly overcame each one.

“What we have been through is awful, but we owe all the staff at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit everything – for saving our little 22-week miracle,” her mother, Tayla Menear, said.

Eastern Daily Press reports Menear experienced pregnancy complications and was admitted to the hospital when she was 21 weeks pregnant. A few days later, Lilly was born – barely moving or breathing.

At first, she was so fragile that her parents were not able to hold her, according to the report. For the first seven weeks, she was on a ventilator.

“I thought I would be scared holding Lilly as she was so fragile, but from the moment she was born I needed to touch and hold her,” her mother remembered. “So when the nurse suggested holding her for the first time I was far too excited to feel scared.”

Menear said they took it one day at a time with Lilly and enjoyed every time she smiled or reacted to their voices.

“Each improvement was a sign that she was becoming more comfortable and settled. She reacts to my voice and will open her eyes when I come in and talk to her. She gives me big beautiful smiles (even if they are wind),” Menear said.

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More recently, restrictions because of the coronavirus also affected the family. During the past two months, Menear and Lilly’s dad, Shane, were prohibited from visiting her together at the hospital; they also had time limits on their visits, the report states.

Menear said it was such a relief to take Lilly home with them.

“I cannot believe this day has come. We never dared hope that this could happen,” she said.

Lilly still has medical problems. Because she was born so prematurely, her doctors said she has a higher risk of development problems in the future as well, but they are “optimistic.”

Menear said she hopes Lilly’s story gives other parents hope.

“I … want people to know if they go into labour at 22 weeks not to feel hopeless. There is always a chance,” she said.

The chance of survival for such premature babies is growing. Research recently prompted the British Association of Medicine to issue new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.

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.

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 five months later.

Recent studies out of Duke University and the New England Journal of Medicine have found that a growing percent of premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy.