A premature baby, who defied all odds and survived in Rajasthan, India, has been dubbed a "miracle baby". Seeta is the "smallest baby ever to survive not just in India but also in South Asia", according to doctors who delivered her.
Seeta was born in 2017 to a couple who were married for 35 years and had not conceived naturally. When she was born, the baby weighed just 14 ounces and measured a mere 8.6in. According to the doctors at the Jivanta Children's Hospital, Udaipur, her tiny feet were only slightly bigger than a fingernail.
The baby's 50-year-old mother conceived her through IVF. But at around 28 weeks of gestation, the mother developed extremely high blood pressure (pregnancy-induced hypertension) and an ultrasound confirmed that the baby's growth was hampered due to complications, Dr Sunil Janged, director of the hospital told IBTimes UK.
"The blood supply to the baby was blocked due to the mother's health due to which we did an emergency caesarean operation and the baby was delivered on 15 June 2017. The baby weighed only 400 grams (14 ounces)," he added.
"At this early stage, the chance of survival of the baby is just 0.5 %," Dr Janged said. As Seeta was the only hope for her parents who came from a poor financial background and had yearned for a child for 35 years, the hospital decided to bear 75% of the cost of the treatment for the premature baby.
The first six months after her birth were more than a challenge for the medical staff considering the baby's fragility and underdeveloped organs.
"She was struggling to breathe, so was immediately put on advanced respiratory support to expand her tiny, immature lungs. She cannot be fed adequately due to the immaturity of the gut. We had to start the baby on total parenteral nutrition, which basically means giving all the essential nutrients such as amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, multivitamins and trace elements directly into blood circulation," said the hospital.
However, to their delight Seeta was able to digest a few drops of milk by seven weeks and started drinking a tiny amount at a time by the time she was four and a half months old. But Dr Janged says the medical staff continued to struggle to keep her safe from sleep apnea and other potentially deadly infections.
Thanks to the constant efforts of Dr Janged, Dr Nikhilesh Nain and the dedicated nursing staff at the hospital, the baby survived miraculously fighting against all odds. After spending 210 days in the neonatal ICU, she was given to her parents weighing a healthy 5.29 pounds.
At seven months, she now weighs 2.4kg with her brain, eyes and hearing being normal. "Her organs are functioning perfectly and she is looking so beautiful and so active," gushed Dr Janged when speaking to us. "Our nursing staff decided to give her the name Manushi, [the current Miss World from India]" the neonatal specialist added.
The Indian state of Rajasthan is notorious for its gender ratio that is unnaturally skewed in favour of boys. The state has also been in the news multiple times for female infanticide. According to the latest Indian census (conducted through the Sample Registration System), the state gender ratio shows there are 1,000 boys for 861 girls.
The director of the Jivanta Children's Hospital told IBTimes UK that his hospital wants to celebrate the miraculous survival of Seeta and send a message to society against female infanticide.
"We are grateful to Seeta and her family and we appreciate them for setting a new example to the community. Rajasthan where the girls, still considered a burden, are thrown into the trash immediately after birth or are left in the orphanage. The couple treated their baby girl who had negligible chance of survival ," local reports quoted Dr Ajay Gambhir, Past National President National Neonatal Forum of India, as saying.