‘Miracle’ baby born at 26 weeks goes home from hospital after 10 months

Written by on March 25, 2024

Boris Lopez and Cecia Juarez

(LOS ANGELES) — A 10-month-old who was born at 26 weeks gestation has beaten the odds to return home from the hospital.

Ellyannah, the daughter of Cecia Juarez and Boris Lopez, was discharged from Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s in Los Angeles on March 15 after spending the first eight months of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit, two weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit and then another month on the pediatrics floor.

“There were doctors [and] nurses from three different units, and I just felt like Ellyannah’s exit couldn’t have been any other way, like, she deserved it,” Juarez told “Good Morning America” of her daughter’s homecoming. “This is what her life has been — a whole celebration of hope.”

For Juarez and Lopez, the journey to parenthood was a long and uncertain one. The couple, who live in Gardena, California, had been married for eight years and had been trying to conceive when Juarez said she learned she was pregnant at the end of 2022.

“I think our pregnancy was nothing short of, like, this miraculous event,” the 36-year-old mom said. “We scheduled an appointment for January of 2023 to seek help, but [on] Dec. 31, 2022, I took a pregnancy test, and I was pregnant without any help.”

At their 20-week appointment, however, Juarez and Lopez received concerning news.

“She was extremely small. She wasn’t getting the right nutrients, and her heart would stop beating at any moment … and because of that, the doctors thought that the best thing for me to do was to terminate my pregnancy,” Juarez recalled. “And at that moment, my husband and I … we just kind of looked at each other, we both agreed that that wasn’t an option.”

Juarez was admitted to the hospital in early May 2023 at 26 weeks gestation. She said doctors told her and Lopez that her blood pressure kept “spiking” and they were counseled to make the difficult decision to have their daughter delivered early.

Ellyannah, whom Juarez and Lopez affectionately call “Elly Belly,” was born May 19, 2023, weighing just 12 ounces, just a little bigger than an average soda can.

“Because her weight was so [low], the doctors believed that she weighed as much as a regular 22-weeker,” Juarez said.

What followed next was what Lopez described as “a roller coaster,” with Elly “extremely sick” and requiring intensive treatments for multiple health challenges, from needing a high-flow ventilator at 100% oxygen to doctors having to resuscitate her during one particularly harrowing period, as well as a collapsed lung.

“All I could think of is to have hope and to have faith and just believe that everything is in God’s hands,” Lopez said.

Despite the long odds, Ellyannah, her parents and her care team never gave up. After 10 months, Elly had recovered, grown and was soon healthy enough to go home.

“Things could have gone a different way and we’re just grateful,” Juarez said.

The mom of one added, “What she looks like now, I think everybody agrees that this isn’t anything short of a miracle.”

Juarez and Lopez said they want to share their daughter’s story to offer hope to other families who might also have a child in the NICU or hospital.

“If someone can look at her story and think … ‘Hey, if that little girl can make it, I think there’s hope,’ then I think it’s worth telling her story,” Juarez said. “There’s things that sound so crazy to the mind but we just have to hold on to our faith and believe that she’s here for a purpose.”

The first-time parents said they also want their “princess” to know she is stronger than she might realize and they’re always going to support her.

“There are no limits to what she’s capable of doing because if she can get through a NICU and she can graduate the NICU, then there is nothing that she can’t do in life,” Juarez said.

Speaking to his daughter, Lopez added, “The same way we were supporting [you] since day one, we’re going to support you every day of your life. We love you. We’re gonna be with you always.”

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