Human Interest

Born at just 24 weeks, this micro-preemie is now a thriving toddler

Two-year-old Emma Lewis is a very special little girl. A micro-preemie born at just 24 weeks and weighing one pound six ounces, Emma defied all the odds and is now a thriving, adventurous toddler. Her parents, Gabby and Deric, told WITN that while Emma is doing well now, she initially had to navigate a 220-day hospital stay that involved intubation and a tracheotomy.

Emma’s parents shared her story as part of a lead-up to the 2021 Children’s Miracle Network Telethon to benefit the Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville, North Carolina. The Lewis family credits the medical team at Maynard for Emma’s survival despite her extremely early arrival.

“Honestly coming both from a medical standpoint and a mother standpoint they were just so open and honest and that’s really what you need,” Gabby said of the hospital staff. “And at the same time, with the honesty that was there the level of compassion they offered was outstanding.” The Lewises are also grateful for generous donations that enabled the hospital to provide many of the things that helped Emma during her hospital stay, including a camera where they could watch her when she was in the incubator.

READ: Born at 21 weeks, this Wisconsin ‘miracle’ baby will spend Christmas at home

Up next for Emma is airway reconstructive surgery on July 26, which will enable her to speak for the first time. “Huge, huge matter for us. We’ll be able to hear her speak for the first time. So that’s going to be emotional and I’m sure she’ll be excited to say the least once she’ll be able to hear her own voice,” said Gabby.

Deric marveled at how well Emma is doing despite her early start. “She’s everywhere; she’s a little rascal. You’d never know the journey she’s been through just looking at her,” he said. “She’s everywhere — she’s full of energy, very happy baby. She loves cuddling dad and wrestling mommy.” Emma was even able to show off her capabilities during the news interview, climbing and playing on the playground with the help of her parents.

Survival stories for micro-preemies like Emma are on the rise, thanks to the amazing capabilities of modern science. While many parents are led to believe that their children cannot survive so early outside the womb, children born as early as 21 weeks are defying the odds and going on to thrive.

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