A baby born extremely premature is being called a miracle baby by his parents, as he fights to survive at Emory Decatur Hospital in Georgia. Born in December at just 21 weeks, Jemarius Jachin Harbor Jr. has a lot going against him, but his parents — and his doctors — aren’t giving up.
Jemarius was born on December 20th, weighing just 13 ounces, and measuring smaller than a hand. “I had just 21 weeks at 12 o’clock, 12:12 I had him. He’s actually has a fighting chance, that’s my miracle baby,” his mother, Jessica McPherson, told Fox5. When she went into labor, she and her fiancé told doctors to do all they could to save their son. “We looked at each other in the eye and I told him just give it a try,” she recounted. “I just want you to try as long as you try that’s all that matters to me, don’t just up and say that you can’t do it. Just ‘cause you haven’t done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.” Previously, she lost two other premature babies, who were both born at 22 weeks.
While McPherson and her fiancé, Jemarius Harbor Sr., are holding on to hope, there’s no denying that their son has a long road ahead of him.
“At 22 weeks some are surviving but 21 weeks is [very rare]; it would be [nothing] short of a miracle,” Gina Phillips, Director of Medical Services at Pregnancy Aid Clinics, told Fox5, but added there was reason to remain optimistic. “They did have a 21-week-old and four-day baby girl [who] survived in Europe and without any complications. She’s several years old now, which is great news for the parents of Jemarius.”
McPherson agreed. “If this child can make it maybe my child can make it as well,” she said. “You know there are going to be good days and going to be bad days because he is so small, but as long as we stay positive that’s all that matters.”
The baby Phillips mentioned in Europe isn’t the only one to have survived being born at 21 weeks. Lyla Stensrud was born in San Antonio at 21 weeks, and is now a healthy five-year-old girl. Lyla’s mother, Courtney, said she shared their story publicly to give hope to other parents in their situation. Though the medical journal Pediatrics says Stensrud is the youngest premature baby to ever survive, as medicine advances, it’s entirely possible that more and more preemies can as well.
As a recent study found, up to 71 percent of preemies can survive if they are given active care, as opposed to just palliative care. While viability is often thought to be 23 weeks, younger and younger infants are surviving. Many of them, like Jemarius, simply need to be given the opportunity.
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