Human Interest

MIRACLE: Premature baby born at 22 weeks is finally going home

late-term abortion, Illinois, born alive, premature

A premature baby who was born 18 weeks early has defied the odds and is now able to spend the holidays at home with her family.

Juana Gallegos shared her story with local news station KHOU, describing how she went into labor on April 29 when she was just 22 weeks pregnant. The hospital where Gallegos initially went told her that they would not be able to save her baby. “They pretty much told me they weren’t going to be able to resuscitate her or be able to do anything for her if she was born there, at that time, that early,” she recounted. “I definitely told them, ‘Transfer me now.'”

Gallegos was able to make it to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, which has a level III NICU. There, her tiny daughter, Jimena “JC” Macias, was born weighing just 1 pound 9 ounces, and measuring just 11 inches long. She needed a ventilator to help her breathe, while an IV provided nutrition through her umbilical cord.

Little JC spent 112 days in the NICU, but was well enough to finally go home with her family in time for Thanksgiving — something her parents never thought would happen. “On day one, day two, day 30… I didn’t think it would be possible to spend the holidays together,” said Gallegos. “God had other plans.”

READ: Premature baby was so small his mother mistook him for placenta

JC’s father, Eduardo Macias, told KHOU that the family has a newfound appreciation for the inconveniences that come with caring for a newborn. “We see it in a different point of view as grateful, because we wouldn’t experience that if she wasn’t here,” he said.

Dr. Rebecca Ballard, a neonatologist at Memorial Hermann/Pediatrix Medical Group of Texas, said that JC’s survival is nothing short of miraculous. “While I wish this story would happen with every baby born this early, it’s not possible,” she said. “Not to think her story represents every baby, but it makes it so much more miraculous that it happened.”

Premature babies like JC face a significant battle for survival — only about 10 percent of babies born at 22 weeks end up making it, according to Verywell Family. Still, children as young as 21 weeks now have a fighting chance at survival outside the womb when given proper medical care. As Gallegos experienced, not every hospital is equipped to help children so small, so it is fortunate that she was able to get to a facility that could help her in time. To locate a hospital near you that is equipped to help 22-weekers, click here.

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