Here’s a story that’s sure to tug at the heartstrings. In Rajasthan, northern India, a girl was recently born an astounding 12 weeks premature. At just 0.8 pounds and 8.6 inches long, it was touch and go for little Manushi, at first.
Manushi’s hands and feet were no bigger than her parents’ thumbs. Her skin, brain, kidney, lungs, and heart were all undeveloped, and she was moved to a ventilator/incubator. She was so young that she had to be fed by supplying vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients directly to her blood system.
Though doctors said she only had a 0.5 percent chance of survival at birth, Manushi turned out to be a fighter. She managed to continue developing and start taking milk. Once she made it to a hefty 5.2 pounds, doctors said she was well enough to go home!
Premature births are more common than you might think. In fact, 1 in 10 babies in the United States are born premature. However, most of these babies are born in the last few weeks of pregnancy, when a fetus is relatively well developed. Premature births in earlier weeks of pregnancy are rarer, and have a lower survival rate.
That’s because preemies are at risk for a whole range of health problems, including Respiratory Distress Syndrome (where there is a risk of the lungs collapsing), anemia (not enough red blood cells), Intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), and more. Since their skin is so sensitive and their organ and immune systems are undeveloped, preemies are also at a higher risk for contracting infections.
Then there are the long-term issues that parents and doctors have to worry about. Even if a preemie survives birth, there is higher chance that they’ll have significant health problems later in life. These include things like cerebral palsy, impaired vision or hearing, and developmental problems like impaired learning and behavioral issues.
So when a preemie like Manushi is born so early and still manages to thrive, it’s nothing short of a miracle. Amazingly, Manushi’s not alone. In 2014, a girl was born in Texas in only the 21st week of the mother’s pregnancy–below the threshold where doctors normally consider a fetus capable of surviving outside of the womb.
In fact, doctors initially told the girl’s parents that they did not advise trying to resuscitate the tiny infant, who weight just 410 grams (0.9 pounds) at birth. The parents begged for a chance, however. According to a report published in a medical journal in 2017, that little preemie is now a thriving toddler!
There’s more to make us love Manushi’s story. All the extreme care that she needed meant a very high medical bill, which the doctors at her hospital decided to waive. Female infanticide is a social problem in Rajasthan, and the doctors wanted to take a stand to say that every infant deserves a chance.
We love inspiring stories of fighting against the odds. Hang in there, Manushi — we hope you continue to do well! What do you think of her story? Do you know of other medical miracles to celebrate?