'Miracle' preemie with rare condition goes home after 6 months in NICU

Seiori was about the size of a Coke can when she was born and six months later she is now healthy and thriving.

Doctors gave the baby a 4% chance of recovery at birth, a spokesperson at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center said 

Paris Sweeney Austin, the single mother from Vallejo, finally took her premature baby home from the NICU on Monday.

Seiori was born at 23 weeks and two days, weighing just 12 ounces. Her feet were the size of a quarter.

"It was definitely a shock to see how small she was," said Austin, who was five months pregnant when Seiroi was born. "Seiori means holy and sacred in Japanese," she said.

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Austin was induced to save her and her baby due to an infection on October 16. 

Seiori was born the earliest and tiniest baby to arrive at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley.

Doctors said they didn’t even know if there was enough lung formed for Seiori to survive.

Dr. Shilpa Patil, the neonatologist on her care team, said it was challenging to give the micro preemie nutrition, because her veins were too small for an IV and her throat was too small for a standard tube.

"Even her diaper, the smallest diaper we have is too big for her."

Seiori spent six months in the hospital, celebrating winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, and Easter in the NICU. The baby had never even been outdoors or felt sunshine.

Doctors said the odds weren’t in her favor, but baby Seiori was feisty, and she put up a fight. Now, she weighs nearly 10 pounds.

"Seiori is breathing on her own. She is very active and she’s drinking all her food with her bottle, with her mom – that’s what makes this so incredible," said Dr. Patil.

Her respiratory therapist Jamie Nibblett watched her go from intubation to solo-breathing. She said, "She’s a miracle, she really is."

On Monday afternoon, one day before her six-month birthday, nurses packed Seiori’s things and prepared Austin for care at home.

She said prayer was her saving grace.

"It’s been pretty hard but with some faith and some hope we got through it," Austin said with a smile.

"She is a fighter," said Patil. "This is a tiny but mighty little girl."

Might she gets from her mom, who said the day of discharge was the happiest day of her life.

The hospital sent Austin and Seiori off in a tunnel of love, as members of her care team cheered them on.

"I’m going to remind her probably every day how much of a fighter she is, and just how strong she is, and how she’s able to accomplish anything because she’s already been through so much in so little time," Austin said as Seiori rested on her belly.

Seiori will continue with outpatient care at the Alta Bates High Risk Infant Follow Up Clinic.