World's tiniest surviving baby goes home from California hospital five months after birth

The baby, known as Saybie, weighed 245g when she was born last December at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) - An infant girl who weighed about the same as a large apple when she was born five months ago and is believed to be the world's tiniest baby ever to survive has gone home from a San Diego hospital.

The baby, known as Saybie, weighed 245g when she was born last December at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns, the hospital said in a statement announcing her birth and discharge on Wednesday (May 29).

Saybie was born 23 weeks and three days into her mother's pregnancy.

The father was told by doctors that he would have about an hour with his daughter before she died.

"But that hour turned into two hours, which turned into a day, which turned into a week," the mother said in a video released by the hospital.

Doctors said Saybie was delivered via emergency caesarean section after severe pregnancy complications that put her mother's life at risk. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.

After nearly five months at the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, Saybie was discharged home earlier this month weighing a healthy 2.2kg and sporting a graduation cap.

"She is a miracle, that's for sure," said Ms Kim Norby, one of the nurses who cared for Saybie as she fought to survive - with a sign by her crib that read "tiny but mighty" cheering her on.

Ms Emma Wiest, another nurse featured in the video, said Saybie was so small at birth that "you could barely see her on the bed".

At birth, she weighed as much as a child's juice box or two sticks of butter, and could fit in the palm of her caretakers' hands.

"I'd heard that we had such a tiny baby and it sounded unbelievable because she's about half of the weight as a normal 23-weeker," Ms Wiest said.

Defied the odds

Doctors said that apart from Saybie's fighting spirit, her survival as a micro-preemie - a baby born before 28 weeks' gestation - could be attributed to the fact that she suffered no serious complications after birth.

"Saybie experienced virtually none of the medical challenges typically associated with micro-preemies, which can include brain bleeds, and lung and heart issues," the hospital said.

Saybie's ranking as the world's tiniest baby ever to survive is according to the Tiniest Babies Registry, maintained by the University of Iowa.

The previous record was held by a baby born in Germany in 2015 who weighed 7g more than Saybie.

"Every life is a miracle - those that defy the odds even more so," Dr Edward Bell, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Iowa who oversees the registry, told Agence France-Presse.

In the video released by the hospital, Saybie's mother said the birth was the scariest day of her life.

She said she was rushed to hospital after feeling ill and was told she had pre-eclampsia - a condition marked by very high blood pressure that puts both the mother and baby's lives at risk.

"They had to deliver her really quickly and I kept telling them that she's not going to survive, she's only 23 weeks," the mother, who did not want to be identified, said.

But against all odds, Saybie did survive.

She nonetheless will still face enormous challenges as a micro-preemie, including possible respiratory, hearing and vision problems.

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