When a baby was born twelve weeks before her due date, the parents and doctors didn’t think she could survive. The baby was minuscule, weighing just under thirteen ounces and measuring 8.6 inches long. Against the odds, tiny Manushi survived birth. But doctors didn’t think she’d live long after that. But for the first few weeks of her life, Manushi survived and persevered and went on to prove to the medical community and any doubters that miracles do occur.
Manushi was born in Rajasthan in northern India. Her hands and feet were minuscule. Her entire hand was as big as her parent’s thumbnail. And that’s if we’re being generous in our estimation. While her smallness was endearing, it was also life-threatening. Because she was born so early, she was vulnerable. Vitals organs like her brain, lungs, kidneys, and the muscle of her heart were not fully developed. And neither was her skin. If something went wrong, Manushi’s tiny body could shut down at any moment and leave her family plunged in grief.
Not only was her life in flux, doctors and nurses fed Manushi minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients directly into her bloodstream. She did not have the strength to take to breast or digest anything like formula.
Doctors estimated that Manushi had a 0.5 percent chance of surviving. But 0.5 percent was enough for Manushi. It was a chance. And the premature baby took it. Despite the odds, she continued to grow and develop and eventually took milk. It was a major win for her family and the doctors in the Rajasthan hospital.
During a weigh-in many weeks after her birth, Manushi topped the scales at 5.2 pounds. That day the doctors deemed her well enough to go home with her family.
As it turned out, Manushi set a record. Without even trying, she became the smallest baby on record ever to be born and survive.
While her case is unique, premature births are not. About ten percent of births in the United States, not to mention other countries, are premature. However, most of these babies are born just within a few weeks of their delivery date. At that point, the baby is just about ready to come out.
But when a baby is born as early as Manushi was, it is very rare for them to survive. Although it does happen, the rate of success and survival is much lower.
As was Manushi’s case, her underdeveloped body was at high risk of contracting an infection or a disease. Because she did not have the regular protections larger babies have, doctors had to be very careful around her. A wayward sneeze, an uncovered cough could have meant the end for tiny, adorable Manushi.
Although Manushi’s success was not foretold, she is not the only tiny premie to survive despite doctors’ doomsday predictions. In Texas back in 2014, mom birthed a baby at the 21st week of pregnancy. That child weighed just 14.4 ounces, making it a bit bigger than Manushi.
Doctors urged the parents to “pull the plug” on the tiny infant. But they refused. And good thing they listened to their faith and protected their little one because that child is now living a happy life with the parents in Texas.