The smallest surviving premature baby ever born at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, IL is finally home.
Born 15 weeks early, at just 25 weeks gestation, Kacie Mormance weighed only 14 ounces, the size of a can of soup. Her twin sister was twice the size and was able to go home in August.
Kacie, however, was not doing as well. Her lungs were not developed enough and she had to be placed on a breathing machine. She also fought an infection, and had to have her vitals and oxygen settings checked constantly.
The girls were delivered early because their mother, Randa Mormance, who was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, was being monitored by maternal fetal health specialists who noticed that Kacie wasn’t developing as well as her sister. Doctors felt it was better for Kacie to be outside of the womb than inside, despite her young age.
“If they wanted to save both babies, the doctors decided they had to do a c-section early,” Don Houchins, the executive director of the suburban Chicago hospital’s Women and Children’s Services, explained to The Chicago Tribune.
Doctors gave the babies steroids to help grow their lungs as much as possible before birth, but they knew there would be many challenges to overcome once the babies had been born.
“When they’re so small, there are so many things that can go wrong,” Houchins said. “Obviously, the first thing we have to do after they’re born is stabilize them. But after that, we have to constantly monitor them to ensure they’re getting enough oxygen, that they are properly hydrated, and we try to protect them from intra-ventricular hemorrhages in the brain.”
Little Kacie overcame the immediate challenges and finally went home with great fanfare on December 15, weighing 10 pounds. Her parents are armed with a feeding tube and a special heart and breathing monitor that will alert them to dangerous changes in her breathing or heart rate. They have also learned CPR.
The girls’ father, Chris Mormance, told reporters that bringing his daughter home is a great Christmas gift, and he thanked hospital staff.
“If it wasn’t for you guys, I don’t know what would have happened,” he said.
Doctors are happy with Kacie’s growth, but they will continue to watch her carefully. Appointments are recommended for both girls every six months until they turn two to ensure proper development.
“We’re just thrilled that Kacie’s going home, and that she’s so healthy,” Dr. Joel Fisher said. “When she was first born, she was very sick, and she still has some residual lung disease. But we’re just thrilled to get her to this point.”
While other babies have been born at 25 weeks gestation at Northwest Community Hospital, they were not as small as Kacie. Babies her size had never survived at this hospital in the past. Her story gives us all hope and proves that science and technology have come a long way, changing the point of viability.