NRL News

Baby born at 21 weeks weighing same as a can of coke discharged from hospital

by | Feb 22, 2024

By Right to Life UK

The most premature baby ever born and discharged at a hospital in Long Beach, California, has gone home after four and a half months of intensive care.

Baby Marz was born when her mother was only 21 weeks pregnant, weighing just one pound one ounce. She was approximately the same size and weight as a can of soda.

Dr. Peggy Chen, a neonatologist, was the one to step up and deliver, intubate and resuscitate such a micro-preemie.

“Dr. Chen had the mind, skill and courage to deliver and intubate”, said Jamar, Marz’s father. “We are so thankful for Dr. Chen who believed in Marz and got us to where we are today”.

“Modern miracle” 

Despite the fact that baby Marz was born so prematurely, the Extremely Low Birth Weight Program at the hospital was able to provide the specialist care that she needed to survive.

Antoine Soliman, the medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), said “This baby’s survival is a modern miracle … We find that babies that are born extremely premature like this, don’t all survive. But because Miller Children’s & Women’s NICU has a Small Baby Center, which has an Extremely Low Birth Weight Program dedicated to providing specialized care to micro-preemies, Marz had an increased likelihood of surviving”.

The Extremely Low Birth Weight Program operates within the Small Baby Center, which provides a warm and dark environment to mimic the mother’s womb and allow babies to grow in more developmentally appropriate surroundings.

Marz’s parents expressed their gratitude for the support they received at the hospital

Baby Marz’s mother Sherrye commented on how grateful they were for the support of the staff saying they did “more than just caring for our daughter”.

“We weren’t looking for any of this and we truly had a community during such a hard time”.

The hospital staff went to considerable lengths to support the family, including providing ongoing updates on Marz’s progress while her parents mourned a family bereavement, and giving them handmade gifts. 

On the day Marz returned home, Sherrye and Jamar were excited to read poems and sing songs they had written for her. They expressed their desire to give hope to other families.

“Stay focused on what matters most, regardless of how things seem”, said Jamar. “Outcomes are a matter of perspective and it’s critical to have faith”.

Outcomes for babies born at 22 and 23 weeks gestation are improving

Originally set at 28 weeks, the abortion limit in the UK was lowered in 1990 to 24 weeks gestation in reflection of medical and technological advancements that had resulted in improving survival rates for babies born before 28 weeks gestation. 

Since then, however, further medical advancements have meant that survival rates for babies who are born before the 24-week abortion limit have significantly improved, so that babies born below 24 weeks gestation are increasingly able to survive.

There is a clear contradiction at the heart of our abortion law and current medical practice. On the one hand, the law permits ending the lives of babies at 22 and 23 weeks, and, on the other hand, current medical practice strives to save the lives of many babies born prematurely at 22 or 23 weeks gestation.

The annual abortion statistics for England and Wales in 2021 show that there were 1,054 abortions for babies at 22 and 23 weeks gestation over that year. At the same time, according to a recent study, there were a total of 261 babies born alive at 22 and 23 weeks, before the abortion limit, who survived to discharge from hospital in 2020 and 2021.

This means in the same hospital, on the same day, two babies at the same gestational age (22 or 23 weeks gestation) could have very different fates – one could have his or her life deliberately ended by abortion, and the other could be born prematurely and have a dedicated medical team provide the best care they can to try to save his or her life.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Marz’s inspirational story of survival demonstrates how even very premature babies are able to make good progress and return home with their families. With children born at such an early gestation now surviving, it is more crucial than ever that legislators in the UK and across the world re-evaluate their abortion laws.”

Categories: Premature babies