London: The world’s third smallest surviving baby could fit in the palm of her dad’s hand and weighed just 9.5oz when she was born on August 30 last year.
Just 10 per cent of babies born weighing less than 1lb (16oz) survive.
But Melinda Guido defied all odds and now doctors say they are “optimistic” about her long-term survival, as she is ready to be taken home by her parents, Haydee Ibarra and her partner, Chef Yovani Guido.
Melinda was delivered by emergency Caesarean section after her mother developed dangerously high blood pressure.
She was 15 weeks premature and soon after her birth, was whisked to a neonatal intensive care unit before her parents could even cuddle her.
Tubes and wires swamped her fragile body, feeding her and pumping air into her tiny lungs.
In November, Melinda was treated for an eye disorder, common in premature babies, and underwent surgery to close an artery.
It was only then that her parents could hold her for the first time.
But after that, Melinda grew stronger each day, astonishing everyone with her fighting spirit.
“All the nurses said she was really feisty,” the Daily Star quoted Ibarra as saying.
Now, at nearly five months old, doctors at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center have declared her healthy enough to be discharged.
She now weighs 4lb 8oz and only breathes through an oxygen tube as a precaution. Her brain scan was normal and her eyes are developing well.
The baby also passed a hearing test and a car seat test that is required for premature babies before being discharged.
“I am cautiously optimistic Melinda will do well,” said Dr Rangasamy Ramanathan.
The hospital will monitor the baby for the next six years.
Extremely premature babies, known as ‘micro preemies’, need constant care at home. Their lungs are not fully developed and there is a high risk of infection.
The smallest surviving baby, Rumaisa Rahman of Illinois, was born weighing 9.2oz (260g) and is now a healthy seven-year-old.