The average baby at birth weighs 7.5 pounds. So you can imagine how elated these parents were when their baby survived despite weighing a mere 10 OUNCES at birth. That’s right, the smallest surviving baby ever to be born in the Carolinas HealthCare system is finally heading home after a four-month struggle to survive. Here is the story of a brave little miracle girl, E’Layah Faith Pegues.
The little girl with a middle name of “Faith” is proving that she is in fact strong. That she survived one month is amazing; that she has lived through four: incredible. E’Layah was born prematurely at just 10 ounces, only 0.8 ounces shy of the world record holder for smallest known surviving baby. That record belongs to baby Rumaisa born Sept. 19, 2004, at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.
Megan Smith, E’Layah’s young mother, is overjoyed at the idea of taking little E’Layah home. Smith, who has high blood pressure and nearly had two strokes, was forced to deliver E’Layah four months early in an emergency C-section. The reason? The young mother couldn’t feel the infant moving, and they had to do the emergency procedure to save her young life.
Local doctor Jessica Clarke-Pounder, a neonatologist at Levine Children’s Hospital, summarized it well in an interview with local news station Fox 46 in Charlotte: “It’s a miracle that she survived even today, so I think had she been born 10 or 16 years ago, it’s very unlikely that she would’ve survived.”
Thanks to a feeding tube of nutrients, E’Layah is still underweight for the average baby but is now out of harms way at a mere 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Doctors say her prognosis is “guarded,” and she will have definite difficulties to overcome.
There are a ton of issues that premature babies face. Every week counts towards survival. For instance, a baby born at 23 weeks has only a 10 to 35-percent chance of surviving and greater than 50-percent chance of a long-term disability. Even with just an extra two extra weeks in utero, their odds of survival dramatically increase from 50 to 80 percent, with the odds of a disability changing from 10 to 35 to a slightly less alarming 15 and 25 percent.
There are difficulties and complications that premature babies commonly experience: sleep apnea, trouble eating, and jaundice caused by a liver that hasn’t completely developed. As if that wasn’t enough to concern young mothers, preemies could also face abdominal hernias, acid reflux, abnormal blood sugar regulation, even incomplete heart development.
Still, doctors are hopeful that the tiny tot, surrounded by the love and support of her family, will be able to surmount these obstacles.
Small additional precautions are recommended for babies born prematurely when they first arrive home from the hospital’s ever watchful eye. Some require extra oxygen or extra guard while sleeping due to common difficulties with breathing. While a mother’s milk is definitely full of nutrients, some premature babies, like E’Layah, will need special nutritional consideration in order to continue growing healthily.
No matter the circumstances, her family is eager to have the tiny tot at home.
E’Layah’s two brothers, age 5 and 11, can’t wait to see her. They haven’t seen the tiny baby since she was born. Plus, no one could be more excited or proud than Smith herself.
“I just won everything right now. This is my prize,” Smith said, adding: “I want to know who she is because she is feisty. She fought to be here.”
She definitely fought: and she won. Way to go, baby E’Layah Faith! Welcome home.