Human Interest

Born premature at 24 weeks, young woman reunites with doctor who saved her

abortion survivor, Wyoming, preemie

Twenty-four years ago, Noelia Ruiz was born at just 24 weeks gestation in Spain, weighing only 800 grams. After spending three months in neonatal intensive care, she was well enough to go home with her family. She recently celebrated an emotional reunion with the doctor who saved her life as a newborn.

According to Meta Mag, Dr. Félix Castillo was working at the hospital of Vall d’Hebron Children’s Hospital as the head of the neonatology department when Ruiz was born on December 14, 1997. He explained it was a “dangerous” situation because 20 years ago, “most babies born at 24 weeks die[d].” Today, babies born as young as 21 weeks have survived. But in 1997, surviving a premature birth at 24 weeks was “big news,” he said.

Last year, Ruiz took a job at the hospital as a nursing assistant, and re-introduced herself to Castillo as the child he had saved more than two decades ago. She called the moment they reconnected “unforgettable.” Likewise, Castillo said Ruiz’s birth was one he “will never forget.”

“Not only did she survive, but she has no serious after-effects,” he said, admitting that this left him “totally perplexed.”

He continued, “At that time, 24 years ago, we didn’t have the same fans, incubators, knowledge or tools that we have today, but with what we had, we did the best we could.”

READ: Preemie delivered at 24 weeks to save her mother’s life is thriving six months later

Ruiz also noticed how different life in the NICU is compared to two decades ago, when her parents were only allowed to visit her “relatively little” but now mothers and fathers are able to be in the NICU as much as possible, even holding their babies skin to skin to help them survive.

“In the incubator, I weighed about 800 grams and fit in the palm of my father’s hand,” she said. “My mother did not understand how I could survive being so small and they feared that if I did, I would have very serious consequences.”

Her own premature birth is one of the reasons Ruiz decided to study to become a medical professional. “I work in the pediatric nephrology and oncohematology departments, and I really like it, I’m happy,” she explained. “In the future, when I have finished my nursing studies, I would like to do a master’s degree in pediatrics or neonatology, I’m not yet sure.”

Scientific advancements are helping premature babies survive earlier and earlier, destroying the notion that abortion should be legal for any reason at any point in pregnancy, especially prior to so-called “viability,” which is a term fraught with issues. In reality, every living human being is “viable” when they are alive and in their natural environment. Abortion is a violent act that kills a living, viable human being.

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