Baby Born with Feet Size of Fingernail. Now She's World's 'Smallest Survivor'


Though childbirth is often described a miracle in and of itself, one case in particular is being hailed by doctors as a “medical sensation.”

It all began when German couple Lukas and Sabine Grabarczyk were expecting their first child, Emilia.

By the 26th week of Sabine’s pregnancy, however, doctors had shared harrowing news with the parents: their baby wasn’t receiving adequate nutrition.

Without intervention, Emilia’s survival odds were astonishingly low, as doctors feared the placenta wasn’t nutritionally sufficient enough.

Though the odds of survival were low, they were still there, prompting the couple to give their daughter a fighting chance.

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Hospital staff — led by Dr. Sven Schiermeier — quickly moved into action in order to deliver the baby by cesarean.

It was here at the Maria Hospital in the German city of Witten that Emilia was brought into the world at just 26 weeks old and weighing only 8 ounces — the smallest preemie to ever be born, according to experts.

Yet, even with Emilia’s miraculous survival, the operation itself wasn’t without its concerns.

“Even children with a birth weight of 14 ounces rarely survive,” said Dr. Bahman Gharavi, adding that a fetus usually weighs around 21 ounces by the 26th week. “We have to thank Emilia as well for her own survival.”

This little fighter’s foot, according to Mirror, was only 1.2 inches (3cm) long, with many comparing it to the size of a fingernail. Her whole body was only an entire 22 centimeters long.

The birth had been followed by uncertainty from both her parents and hospital staff, who feared subsequent complications due to her size.

Many preemies have complications, from hyperactivity to learning disabilities.

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“For more than six months, it was unclear whether she would survive,” said Dr. Gharavi, who described the unique birth. “Only in recent weeks she is getting more robust.”

Thankfully for Emilia, there were no signs of disability, though she did undergo abdominal surgery at only 12 ounces and initially had to be fed using a tube. Staff used sugar water to soothe other pains she had.

As far as elated parents Lukas and Sabine, they couldn’t be more thankful for the miracle. “There were many difficult days and many tears,” Sabine said. “But she clearly wanted to survive.”

For both Emilia and her parents, giving up was never an option. Now, nine months later, the robust preemie weighs 106 ounces, with her parents saying she gets a little stronger every day.

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
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