E’layah Faith Pergues, one of the smallest babies ever born, has defied all the odds stacked against her and was able to leave the hospital and go home with her family for the first time.
Megan Smith and Eric Pegues welcomed their daughter E’layah on September 23 after Megan underwent an emergency c-section at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. E’layah was only 26 weeks gestation when she was born, which made her 14 weeks early. At birth, E’layah weighed only 10 ounces, which is less than a can of soda, and measured only 10 inches long, making her one of the smallest babies to ever survive after birth. She was so small, in fact, that her doctors weren’t sure how to go about feeding her.
“A lot of babies at that size – we can’t even get them out of the delivery room, but she was incredibly vigorous and active,” Dr. Andrew Herman, a neonatologist and Interim Chief Medical Officer at Levine Children’s Hospital, told People Magazine. “She was teeny tiny. Looking at her size, we realized it would be an incredibly difficult challenge to keep her alive and to get her to thrive and grow.”
“Our goal since her birth was to grow her as quickly and as safely as we could,” Herman added in a statement to ABC News.
To keep her healthy, they concocted a mixture of formula and breast milk to feed her every few hours.
“We’ve had to fine-tune our approach with E’Layah,” Herman continued. “We are now feeding her a combination of protein, fat, sugar, electrolytes and vitamins that will help prevent infections, mature her intestines and help her gain weight.”
The concoction worked and was able to help E’layah grow. Now, five months later, she has come a long way and weighs five pounds and seven ounces. Not only was feeding E’layah an obstacle, Dr. Jessica Clark-Pounder of Levine Children’s Hospital said everything had to be adjusted to care for her properly.
Congrats to the Pergues family! Born 14 weeks early at a mere 10 ounces, baby E’Layah Faith is finally home after… https://t.co/Bh3eiLvMVi
— Hand to Hold (@ATX_HANDtoHOLD) February 11, 2016
“Even our equipment, even our diapers that we have for our smallest babies were too big for her. So, we had to be very creative in taking care of her,” Clark-Pounder explained. “She has grown, she has been able to breathe on her own and she looks around. She pays attention to her surroundings, she knows her mom’s voice, she knows her dad’s voice… and I’m amazed she has come this far.”
Megan admitted she was nervous to be taking E’layah home but was also so excited to be able to spend every moment with her little girl. When they arrived at their home, Megan said E’layah started adapting quickly and is working on figuring out her surroundings. Needless to say, after five long months, Megan is just happy to have her daughter at home with her.
“It’s wonderful. I’ve longed for this moment for so long. I wasn’t sure we would ever get home!” Megan said. “She’s adapting pretty well, she’s looking around trying to figure out her surroundings. She’s very alert.”
— BCNN1 (@bcnn1) January 28, 2016
Megan and Eric are excited to see what the future holds for their miracle baby, but for now, they are concentrating on learning everything they can about her.
“I want to know who she is. She is feisty,” Megan said. “I’m ready to see what’s in store.”
As for Dr. Herman, he said there are still chances that E’layah may have some health problems as she grows, including cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, but she has already defied so many odds that he thinks she will go on to live a happy, healthy life.
“I probably would have given her a one percent chance of surviving and now to see her go home…I think of the birthdays, the holidays they’ll spend together – she’ll go out for Halloween, maybe someday have a family of her own. They may forget us – and that’s okay – but she’ll have a happy life,” Herman said.
[Photo via Shutterstock]