Human Interest

Miracle baby born to ovarian cancer survivor is home for Christmas

The smallest premature baby ever born at St. Francis Health System in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is home in time for Christmas. And the journey to get there was nothing short of miraculous.

Carolina Gonzalez was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 19, and she was concerned she may not be able to have children. One ovary was removed, and while another still remained, the treatment for her cancer damaged some of her eggs. “So there was a future of carrying kids, but not so much conceiving on my own,” she told Fox23 News. “Because of all the treatment, it just fried the eggs.”

In 2021, Gonzalez and her partner, Michael MacDougal, became pregnant through use of fertility treatments, and at first, things seemed to be progressing normally. “It was smooth sailing, I had no nausea,” Gonzalez said. “It was a pretty simple pregnancy.”

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But at 23 weeks, an ultrasound revealed that their daughter, Baby Jo, was too small. After several days in the hospital being monitored, Gonzalez was released to go home — only for things to quickly take a turn for the worse. The couple were expecting that their daughter might not survive. “The doctor says you’re really sick, you have preeclampsia, and HELLP syndrome, and we’re going to have to deliver right now, and I’m 23 weeks and 4 days,” she said. “So we’re on the table, I’m on the table, and Mike’s holding my hand, and we just hear this little cry. It’s so strong, but so soft.”


Jo weighed less than 12oz — the same as a can of Coke — coming in at just 340 grams. Her eyes were fused shut, and according to the hospital’s survival calendar for premature babies, she couldn’t be saved. But her cries at birth were, according to Dr. Rachel Everette, the co-director of the Saint Francis Children’s Hospital NICU, all she needed to know. “That was actually my sign from the Lord that I need to try and do something,” Everette said.

Yet nine days after being born, there were fears that Jo would die after one of her lungs collapsed. “Her mom got to hold her, and then I held her for a little bit,” MacDougal said. “We had her baptized because we were pretty sure that was the last day and she kept fighting. [S]he kept fighting for 142 days at the NICU.”

In October, she was able to come off the ventilator, and after five months in the NICU, was able to come home — just in time for Christmas, making it the best holiday the couple could ask for. “We couldn’t imagine a better one,” Gonzalez said. “[S]he is with us and that’s all we ever wanted.”

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