Born at 13 ounces, micropreemie goes home Monday

By Dave Andrusko

Bender family
Photo: Ebonie Bender

Who “weighed less than a pound at birth, and measured shorter than an average-sized Barbie doll”? If you answered Kallie Bender, you’d be 100% correct. If you knew she was born 15 weeks premature, you’d get extra points.

Fox 5 (Phoenix) reported that after 150 days in the St. Joseph’s Nursery Intensive Care Unit (NyICU), Kallie went home Monday to be with her mom, Ebonie, dad, Dameon, and three brothers.

She now weighs in at a whopping 7 pounds plus and “is thriving,” according to Nicole Garcia.

CBS 5 put it this way: “Kallie has defied the odds thanks to her supportive family and a skilled team of doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s.”

The Bender family has come a long way from the fateful day back in May. Mrs. Bender’s pregnancy was high-risk because of high blood pressure.

“Her mom said she knew something was wrong when she went in for a checkup at 25 weeks,” Garcia reported.

“The mood in the room changed with the ultrasound, there was no fluid around Kallie,” said Ebonie Bender, Kallie’s mother. The doctors discovered that Ebonie has a condition that reduced blood flow and nutrients to the unborn baby.

Mrs. Bender was told Kallie would need to be delivered right away, CBS 5 reported.

Less than an hour later, Kallie was born, 15 weeks premature. She was quickly rushed to the NyICU for immediate medical care. Later that day, Bender and her husband were able to see their baby girl for the first time.

“It was a relief to see her even though she was tiny and hooked up to all of these machines,” said Bender. “But, she was here, and with God on her side, Kallie Skye was ready to fight for her life.”

Weighing just 13 ounces at birth, Kallie was fortunate to be born at St. Joseph’s, which avoided the need to be airlifted to another facility, according to CBS 5.

She also recovered from a complex heart procedure, which was performed by a team of skilled surgeons from St. Joseph’s, after she was diagnosed with a heart defect common among micro-preemies.

Miraculously, Kallie didn’t suffer any brain bleeds or blindness due to her early arrival. Those are conditions that can occur in babies born around Kallie’s size and gestational age.

Becky Cole, one of Kallie’s primary nurses, told Good Morning America (GMA), “We’re thrilled that after nearly five months Kallie is going home with her family.” Cole added, “We’ve loved being able to watch her grow and are excited for her to celebrate many milestones in the future with her parents and brothers.”

Mrs. Bender told GMA’s Genevieve Shaw Brown, “It’s bittersweet to leave,” adding, “But she’s an amazing little fighter and I can’t wait to see the personality she brings to our family.”