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“Miracle baby” born the size of a coke can survives all odds to thrive at one year

A baby who was born the same size as a coke can is now a thriving one-year-old after physical contact with her parents appeared to prompt her recovery, according to her doctor.

Baby Jo arrived at just 23 weeks and 4 days gestation after her mother, Carolina, was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. Carolina had to undergo an emergency cesarean section and Jo was born weighing just 12 ounces (340g) and measuring just 10 and a half inches (27cm) long.

Due to her prematurity, Jo had underdeveloped lungs and required the use of oxygen. Her parents were told that the chances of her survival were low.

Her father, Michael, recalled “Dr Everette was incredibly sweet and compassionate, but she kind of just spelled it out for us that, look, small babies this early just don’t normally make it. We frequently can’t get them intubated. There’s, you know, not a lot we can do”.

Dr Rachel Everette of St Francis Children’s Hospital said “She wasn’t going to survive. She was very small and she was on the edge of viability”.

However, baby Jo fought for life

Unexpectedly, Dr Everette was able to intubate the baby. “That wasn’t supposed to happen”, the doctor said. “She wasn’t supposed to have a mouth big enough for me to be able to intubate her, because she’s so tiny”.

Jo’s parents were finally allowed to hold their baby when she was nine days old, when doctors thought that she was going to die.

Dr Everette said “It was almost like Jo just got energised from the fact that her mom and dad were holding her. We could just watch her sats [oxygen saturation levels] go up, slowly but it’s going up”.

After 142 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, Jo was able to go home with her family. She is the smallest baby to survive at St Francis Children’s Hospital, and is on the Tiniest Baby Registry for the world’s smallest surviving babies.

Jo is now a year and a half old and is being weaned off oxygen at home.

Extremely premature babies are surviving at higher rates than ever

At 23 weeks gestation, Jo was born below the current UK abortion limit of 24 weeks. Research published in November 2023 by academics at the University of Leicester and Imperial College London found a total of 261 babies born alive at 22 and 23 weeks, before the abortion limit, who survived to discharge from hospital in 2020 and 2021. This is compared to the Government abortion statistics, which show that in 2021 alone, 755 “ground C” abortions were performed when the baby was at 22 or 23 weeks gestation (ground C is the statutory ground under which the vast majority of abortions are permitted and there is currently a 24-week time limit for abortions performed under this statutory ground).

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Baby Jo’s story is amazing and demonstrates how important parental love and expert medical support both are to the thriving of premature babies”. 

“Sadly, many babies receive neither, and are aborted at the same age as Jo was when she was born. Stories like this should prove to the British public and the Government that a revision of the abortion law is long since overdue, and that the current 24-week limit should be lowered to reflect these very premature babies who are surviving and thriving with the right support”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.