World’s smallest surviving baby born at 23 weeks celebrated by pro-life advocates

Baby Saybie who is believed to be the world's smallest surviving newborn weighed just 8.6 ounces at birth.
Baby Saybie who is believed to be the world's smallest surviving newborn weighed just 8.6 ounces at birth. | Sharp Health

The world’s smallest surviving baby is being celebrated by pro-life advocates as a compelling face against the abortion movement.

A micro preemie nicknamed Saybie was about the size of an apple weighing just 8.6 ounces when she was born at 23 weeks.

“Under the SB 25 – the extreme abortion bill that Illinois lawmakers are on track to pass – unborn babies at Saybie's age have no rights at all and can be brutally aborted at any time, up until the moment of their birth, for any reason. #StopTheMadness#StopSB25#ProLife,” tweeted Illinois Right to Life on Thursday.

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“The dramatic difference between celebrating baby Saybie’s fight for life at 23 weeks and 8.6 ounces while debating abortion in the last trimester is staggering and unbelievable and heartbreaking and unbearable,” added pro-life advocate K. Pelner.

San Diego's Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, California's largest maternity hospital, which is recognized as among the best in the world in caring for micro preemies, announced on Wednesday that Saybie, who was delivered by emergency caesarean section in December, was released from a California hospital in good health to her parents earlier this month.

“She’s a miracle, that’s for sure,” Kim Norby, one of the NICU nurses who cared for Saybie, said in a video produced by the hospital.

Paul Wozniak, a neonatologist at the hospital, told The Washington Post that he was shocked as he observed Saybie in the hospital last December and thought she wouldn't survive.

“We just sat by her bedside the first six hours,” Wozniak said. “I thought her chances of making it probably weren’t good. I told the folks every hour I would update them, but there’s a good chance she’s going to die.”

But Saybie just kept on thriving as the hospital staff supported her care up until the day she was discharged, Wozniak said.

“Many babies like this go home on oxygen, which I thought she probably would, but no, she weaned off of it,” he said, noting that she was also breastfeeding well and didn’t need a feeding tube. “The fact that she’s done so well is just such a reward, and just makes the whole team feel wonderful.”

Dr. Edward Bell of the University of Iowa, which maintains the Tiniest Babies Registry, confirmed that Saybie is the smallest baby the registry has ever recorded.

"Baby Saybie has the lowest birth weight among the infants in the Tiniest Babies Registry," Bell told NPR. "The registry contains only those infants submitted and medically confirmed. We cannot rule out even smaller infants who have not been reported to the registry."

Saybie’s parents, who have chosen to remain anonymous, explained in the hospital video that when she developed complications from preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition that can slow a baby’s growth in the womb, she had worried her baby would die.

"It was the scariest day of my life," the mother recalled. "They told my husband we had about an hour with her and that she was going to pass away. But that hour turned into two hours, which turned into a day, which turned into a week."

Earlier this month as she and her husband took home their baby girl, she was a “healthy 5-pound infant” the hospital told The Washington Post.

“I was stunned, frankly,” Wozniak noted. He said he spoke with Saybie’s mother on Wednesday and she told him her daughter was up to 6 pounds, 2 ounces “and doing great.”

Wozniak further explained that when the baby girl was born in December, she wasn’t breathing but “had a good heart rate.” Her parents decided that if she had a heart rate “they wanted everything done” to save her life, he said.

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