Courtney Stensrud and her husband gave birth to a little girl just 21 weeks and four days after conceiving.
There little girl was truly a miracle, “She may be the most premature known survivor to date,” according to a case report about her birth published in the journal Pediatrics last week.
It was back in 2014 that a medical emergency brought Courtney into Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas where she was forced to deliver her baby girl early.
“There were stories of 22-weekers, 23-weekers, but nothing about 21-weekers. So I knew that there was little to no survival or viability at 21 weeks,” Courtney said.
But Courtney was in for a surprise. Even though the doctors informed her that there was a very low chance the 15-ounce baby would survive, there was still a little hope.
“Although I was listening to him, I just felt something inside of me say, ‘Just have hope and have faith.’ It didn’t matter to me that she was 21 weeks and four days. I didn’t care,” Courtney said.
“As he was talking to me, I just said, ‘Will you try?’ And he said he would, and three years later, we have our little miracle baby,” Courtney said.
It truly is an astounding miracle that the little girl survived, and now she is 3 years old! Courtney knows how remarkable this is, and she uses the wonderful story to encourage others.
“I don’t tell her story a lot, but when I do, people are amazed,” Courtney said. “If there’s another woman in antepartum that is searching Google, they can find this story and they can find a little bit of hope and a little bit of faith.”
Dr. Kaashif Ahmad was there throughout the entire journey and is just as stunned at baby’s progress, but he cautions that not every situation ends like hers.
“It is very possible that there have been many 21-week babies resuscitated in other places that did not have positive outcomes, and for that reason, we haven’t heard about them,” Ahmad said. “We reported this case because after this resuscitation she did well, but it may be possible that this is just an extraordinary case and that we shouldn’t expect the same from other babies. We have to learn more before we can make any conclusions.”
Courtney went into early labor because of a premature rupture of membranes and a common infection of the placental membrane called chorioamnionitis, according to the report.
“But when the mother asked that we do everything for her daughter, despite having no reason to believe the baby would survive, I just made the decision to proceed with a vigorous resuscitation,” Ahmad said.
“So we placed her under an overhead warmer, we listened, and we heard her heart rate, which we were not necessarily expecting,” he said.
“We immediately placed a breathing tube in her airway. We started giving her oxygen, and really pretty quickly, her heart rate began to rise. She very slowly changed colors from blue to pink, and she actually began to move and began to start breathing within a few minutes.”