Miracle Baby: Tiny Newborn Born at 23 Weeks with Hands the Size of Her Dad’s Fingernail

Miracle Baby: Tiny Newborn Born at 23 Weeks with Hands the Size of Her Dad’s Fingernail

When little Elsie was born, she weighed a mere 1lb 1oz, equivalent to the weight of a can of baked beans. Born at just 23 weeks, she required immediate life support. However, after spending 70 days in the hospital, she is now thriving at home.

Elsie made her early arrival at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester on June 17 last year. Her mother, Katie, had a challenging pregnancy, marked by heavy bleeding caused by a subchorionic hematoma that began at the eighth week and persisted. Due to the risks involved, doctors were unable to administer medication before the 16th week.

With Elsie’s premature birth, doctors informed Katie and her partner, Rob, that their daughter had only a one in four chance of survival. Katie, a full-time mother of two, described the uncertainty and anxiety she experienced: “I just didn’t know if I was going to lose Elsie or not. I was living with the unknown, unable to relax or enjoy my pregnancy. Even in the hospital, there was no guarantee she would survive.”

When Elsie arrived, she was incredibly tiny, with her body no larger than her father’s hand. A photo of her hand next to her dad’s hand fails to capture just how small she was, as her little hand was no bigger than his fingernail. Despite her size, she had perfectly formed features, complete with eyelashes, fingernails, and toenails. Katie described her as “tiny like a little doll.”

The couple discovered they were expecting their second child together in February 2021. However, Katie began experiencing heavy bleeding early in her pregnancy. Diagnosed with subchorionic hematoma, she underwent regular scans and monitoring at Rochdale Infirmary. Although the risk of premature birth was discussed during consultations, Katie remained hopeful that the bleeding would resolve itself, as it does for many women.

Unfortunately, the bleeding persisted, and at 22 weeks, Katie was admitted to the hospital when she went into labor. The labor was complicated by a placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterine wall before birth. Immediately after Elsie’s birth, she was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and connected to a ventilator. Katie recalls the fragility of her newborn: “Her skin was practically see-through, and she was so small.”

The following weeks in the NICU were filled with uncertainty for the couple. They anxiously awaited news of Elsie’s progress, unsure if she would pull through. The experience was described as one of the most traumatic witnessed by the unit’s staff. Elsie remained in the NICU, relying on a ventilator for nearly 70 days. Finally, in October, she had gained enough strength to go home.

Katie expressed immense gratitude towards the hospital staff for saving Elsie’s life, referring to them as real-life angels. She believes they deserve recognition for their remarkable work and credits them with saving her baby’s life.


Nghia Pham