CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte couple was able to celebrate Christmas with the greatest gift the two parents could receive: a healthy baby girl.
E'layah Faith was born on Sept. 23 at Carolinas Medical Center -- 14 weeks premature -- and weighed just 10 ounces, making her the smallest surviving baby ever born at the hospital.
On Dec. 29 she celebrated her "original" due date, weighing roughly five times as much as when she was born.
Andrew Herman, MD, neonatologist and chief medical officer at Levine Children’s Hospital credits baby E’layah’s survival and growth to a “combination of talent, perseverance, and creativity.”
“Our goal since her birth was to grow her as quickly and as safely as we could,” said Dr. Herman.
However, the team at Levine Children’s Hospital had to come up with new ways to feed E’layah because traditional methods would not work on such a small baby. The team developed a special combination of formula and breast milk to keep E’layah healthy and growing.
“We’ve had to fine tune our approach with E’layah,” said Herman. “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 pregnancy was not easy for Megan Smith and Eric Pegues. Megan suffered two strokes and fought morning sickness and high blood pressure. In August, her OB/GYN determined E'layah was no longer growing and sent her to CMC and she was placed on bed rest for nearly a month.
E'layah stopped moving on Sept. 23 and doctors delivered her via emergency C-Section.
Despite warnings from the doctors that their baby girl may not survive, the parents said their belief never wavered.
“We just weren’t taking it,” said Megan. “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."
During the first two weeks E'layah had several blood transfusions and slowly began gaining weight. The parents and medical staff celebrated when she reached 1 pound.
The little girl now weighs 3 pounds and is able to be fed by both her mother and father. The parents take turns spending their days in the hospital with E’layah while juggling school, work and taking care of Eric’s son.
Megan believes her daughter will grow up to have a very active life.
“I know she will be something special, whether it’s running on the track, ballet lessons or even basketball,” she said.
Herman said the entire team caring for E’layah, who they affectionately call “tater tot,” describe her as one of their proudest moments and credit the parents for being so involved in her care.
“It is all about families at Levine Children’s Hospital,” said Herman. “If you can bring the family together, and give them hope that they will one day all be together, then we do whatever it takes to keep that hope alive.”
Megan and Eric have held on to their faith and are taking things one day at a time.
"We pray for her strength. E’layah is our miracle baby girl.”
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