One of Youngest-Ever Surviving Preemies Goes Home

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. This story appeared in the March 2007 edition of National Right to Life News and is part of our year-long “Roe at 40” series where we are reprinting stories from NRL News going back to its founding in 1973. If you are not a subscriber to the “pro-life newspaper of record,” please call us at 202-626-8828.

preemiefingersAmillia Sonja Taylor, born at 21 weeks, six days, who weighed in at just under 10 ounces, and who, when fully stretched out, was 9 1/2 inches long, finally went home in February. She is among the youngest babies ever to survive.

As she approached her departure from The Baptist Children’s Hospital in Miami, pictures of Amillia, born last October, created a stir on the Internet. One favorite was Amillia lying next to a ballpoint pen. She’s about the length of a hair longer. Another shows a health care worker holding Amillia’s itsy-bitsy feet.

She now tips the scales at a whopping 4 1/2 pounds.

Her parents appeared on Good Morning America (GMA). Eddie Taylor told GMA the name Amillia was chosen “to honor the spirit of their baby daughter.”

“It means resilience,” he said. “She fought for her life, she fought to be here. By the grace of God, she’s here.”

According to the GMA account, “Amillia was born with a mild brain hemorrhage, respiratory problems and digestive problems, but her doctor, William Smalling, said she showed a strong will to live.”

“This baby showed signs of being viable at the time of delivery, which means she showed signs that she was mature enough to survive,” Smalling told GMA. “She made efforts at breathing, [an] attempt to cry at birth. So when she was assessed at the delivery, she showed signs that she may have been mature enough to survive, and she proved us right.”

“She’s truly a miracle baby,” Dr. Smalling, a neo-natal expert, told the BBC. “We weren’t too optimistic. But she proved us all wrong,” he added.

Dr. Paul Fassbach, who has cared for Amillia since her second day, said, “Her prognosis is excellent.”

Amillia was conceived by in vitro fertilization, “which made it possible to pinpoint her exact time in the womb, and was delivered by Caesarean section,” the Associated Press reported.

Inevitably, Amillia’s survival brings up once again the issue of premature babies and how aggressively they are treated when they are very premature. Indeed, GMA’s story says, “There is hope that Amillia’s survival will help doctors reassess viability for premature babies.”

According to Dr. Smalling, “I think she does open the debate again that we’re constantly reassessing those limits of viability. She may well be one of the factors that allow us to consider babies that age to [be] viable.”

As the BBC said in concluding its account, “Amillia’s survival demonstrates the dramatic advances in neo-natal care in recent years, correspondents say.”

According to the British publication the News & Star, Amillia’s survival has already been a part of an emotionally charged debate in England. The influential Nuffield Council of Bioethics earlier this year recommended that no baby born under 24 weeks should be automatically revived.

One mother, Pearl Pope, attended a conference with her daughter Heather, now four, “to try to persuade them that every case should be treated on an individual basis,” according to the News & Star. Heather was born 17 weeks early.

After listening to Ms. Pope and the testimonials of other parents of babies born prematurely, “medical experts agree to lower the limit to 22 weeks, after which doctors are advised to assess each baby before making a decision on resuscitation.”

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