When E’layah Faith was born 14 weeks premature in September, weighing only 10 ounces, doctors weren’t sure whether she would live. As the smallest surviving baby born at Carolinas Medical Center, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and one of the smallest in the world, E’layah’s chances for survival were slim, Fox 8 reported.
But this month, more than three months after her Sept. 23 birth, E’layah weighs about five times as much as her original birth weight. That’s thanks to a carefully administered combination of formula and breast milk, her mother, Megan Smith, said in a Carolinas HealthCare System blog post.
“Our goal since her birth was to grow her as quickly and as safely as we could,” Dr. Andrew Herman, a neonatologist and chief medical officer at Levine Children’s Hospital, said in the blog post.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm, or before 37 completed weeks of gestation. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death among children under 5 years old, and about 1 million children died in 2013 after early birth.
Doctors in North Carolina have continued to feed E’layah a combination of protein, fat, sugar, electrolytes and vitamins to help prevent infection in the newborn, help her intestines develop and help her gain weight.
Smith had two strokes during her pregnancy and battled high blood pressure as well as morning sickness. In August, her OB-GYN saw that her child stopped growing in utero and placed Smith on bed rest for about a month. In September, doctors performed an emergency C-section when her child stopped moving.
“We just weren’t taking it,” Smith said in the blog post. “We said, ‘We have to have faith,’ and that’s when we made her middle name ‘Faith’ because we weren’t going to give up on her.”
The first two weeks of E’layah’s life were replete with blood transfusions as doctors tried to help her gain weight. But today E’layah has reached a body weight of about 3 pounds, and her parents have high hopes for her future.
“We pray for her strength,” Smith said in the post. “E’layah is our miracle baby girl.”