Last April 12, Daniella was born after only five months gestation, weighing only 675 grams and only 32 centimeters long, an incredibly tiny creature with internal organs and veins still developing. A sign was placed on her crib, “No Viable,” warning nurses not to waste their time. The child was doomed.
The third day after birth, Daniela’s parents, Viviana Moreira, 20, and Evelio Jimenez, 31, had already said goodbye. In the past 12 years, only 62% (289) of the 623 babies born after only five months’ gestation survived. The the odds did not account for several guardian angels masquerading as nurses.
Nurse Kattia Ramos, chief of nurses in the newborn section, was just getting off her shift that Friday when she spied Daneila and her pitiful sign. “How can it be,” she remembers asking herself, “that she doesn’t have an intravenous feed or anything?”
But Daniella’s veins were so tiny that the 3 to 5 centimeter needles were so large that they soon broke through her tiny veins, leaving her black and blue inside her arms within three days. Moreover, with deficient immune system, she soon had infections.
But, on that fateful third day, another angel, nurse Guiselle Hernadez with 22 years of experience, came on duty at 10 p.m. and saw Daniela for the first time. At two in the morning, a nurse said to her, “What a shame about this baby! She hasn’t eaten anything since two o’clock this afternoon.”
Hernandez wasn’t about to see a patient die of hunger and grabbed a needle to see if she could find a vein. She made it the first try. “I always thought that God was using us as an instrument,” she told La Nacion.
But at day seven, more complications appeared and specialist Dr. Jorge Acuña was worried. “We started to treat her but it wasn’t easy,” he remembers, “It’s normal for babies to lose weight the first two weeks but her loss wasn’t normal. You estimate that babies lose 15% of birth weight but she lost 30% and weighed 434 grams.”
Losing 30 to 40 grams per day, her body appeared pale and emaciated. She faced 80 days in an incubator but began to gain weight, much to the relief of the staff. Today, after 107 days in the hospital, she weighs two kilos (almost five lbs.)
Daniela is restless and many times pulls the leads to the machines that still tether her to life from her body. She eats a great deal, as if trying to make up for lost time, and sleeps in her parents’ arms.
Against all prediction, Daniela does not suffer the complication that afflict many premature babies — no lesions in the brain or trouble with eyesight. Dr. Acuña foresees a normal development for her and only warns that she should beware of colds.