Baby Halea: A 12-Ounce Miracle
By Liz Townsend
Editor’s note. The following is today’s installment of our year-long “Roe at 40” series in which we’re reprinting some of the best stories from National Right to Life News going all the way back to 1973. The following appeared in the November 2001 edition. If you are not a subscriber to the “pro-life newspaper of record,” call us at 202-626-8828.
So tiny at birth that her father’s wedding ring could slide up to her shoulder, Halea Maurer beat the odds and went home with her family October 26 at four months old weighing four pounds, nine ounces.
When she was born June 25 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois, 27 weeks into her mother’s pregnancy, she weighed only 12 ounces, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Medical technology has improved so much that more and more babies born with such low birth weights can survive. The University of Iowa’s Division of Neonatology has collected data on 28 babies who weighed less than 400 grams (14.1 ounces) at birth, 17 of whom were born in the last five years.
Interestingly, only the largest three babies on the list are male – - all of the tiniest babies are female.
Anne and Ken Maurer of Elmhurst, Illinois, were told two weeks before she was born that their baby would be premature and would probably not be able to survive, the Sun-Times reported. Anne Maurer was diagnosed with a condition called intrauterine growth restriction, in which the placenta is unable to supply the normal amounts of oxygen and nutrients.
The Maurers decided to name their daughter Halea, which is Hawaiian for “fond remembrance,” and put together a box of her ultrasound pictures and other mementos, according to the Chicago Tribune.
But Halea proved the doctors wrong. Born June 25 by Caesarean section, she showed her toughness right away. “She was very active,” neonatologist Vihba Thaker told the Sun-Times.
“Her eyes were open, and she was kicking around. That told me she was a strong baby and was going to make it. And she did.”
Halea was immediately given medication to help her frail lungs continue to develop and placed on a ventilator for the first nine days of her life, the Sun-Times reported.
Her parents were shocked when they saw just how small she was. “The first time I held her, of course, I cried because she was so tiny,” Mrs. Maurer said, according to the Sun-Times. “To hear her heart beat, I cried. I couldn’t even see her face because she was so small against me.”
Halea fought anemia, hernias, infections, and breathing problems in the first months of her life, the Tribune reported. But brain scans before she left the hospital showed no problems, and she needs no special care at home.
“She’s going home as a normal, healthy baby,” said Dr. Michael Fitzgerald, Good Samaritan’s medical director of neonatology, according to the Sun-Times.