A tiny baby born a week before the abortion limit and weighing less than a pound has defied the odds to survive – and thrive.
Jessica Doxey, 30, was diagnosed with the life-threatening blood condition pre-eclampsia when she was rushed to hospital at just 23 weeks pregnant.
An emergency c-section was performed to save the mum – who was warned her tiny son was unlikely to survive.
He was born so early, Jessica said doctors asked her if she wanted them to save her son.
Tiny Kaio, who was just 435g (15oz), was given a 10 per cent chance of survival and spent six weeks on a ventilator and two and a half months in an incubator, replicating the womb.
A few weeks before Christmas, the Doxeys finally received the best present of all when little Kaio came home, aged four and a half months.
Jessica, a food scientist from Bakersfield, California, said: “At no point in my mind was I willing to give up on our little boy.
“I’d been in so much pain over the last 72 hours but what kept me going was holding on to the belief that he’d be okay.
“The c-section took about an hour, and they had to use general anaesthetic to perform the surgery.
“When I woke up I was really confused, and the doctors explained that Kaio was alive but weighed just 435 grams.
“They even invited my husband in so we could share what they thought would be our first and last moments with him in case he didn’t make it.
“But, that thought hadn’t even crossed our mind, and we were determined to save him.”
Mum-of-three Jessica, who is married to husband also called Kaio, 31, went into labour prematurely with first child Stella, six, at 36 weeks.
She said she was reassured it was unlikely to happen again, but at 23 weeks, Jessica was rushed into hospital after suddenly developing a severe headache.
She was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia – an emergency condition that causes high blood pressure and rejection of the pregnancy – making the mother more and more sick until the baby is born.
It usually occurs towards the end of the pregnancy, but for Jessica, this wasn’t the case, and her condition quickly worsened.
A few days later Jessica developed HELP syndrome, a pregnancy complication that affects the blood and liver.
Prior to the c-section, doctors gave him a 40 percent chance of survival, however, once he was born, on July 7, that immediately dropped to a harrowing ten.
Jessica was discharged from hospital a week after giving birth, and was tasked with producing breast milk every day to give Kaio the best chance of survival.
She expressed milk for the entire four and a half months and stored the milk in a special freezer at home, before bringing it in to the hospital to feed him.
As time passed, Kaio became stronger and stronger and Jessica and her husband visited him around the clock, praying he’d survive.
On November 13, 2017, he came home weighing 8lb 15oz.
“For weeks it felt like it was my fault because it was my body,” Jessica said.
“It felt like my failing and it’s hard to let that go when you’re watching your child suffer.
“When your in that situation, every good thing that happens you’re afraid to enjoy it.
“Being at home whist Kaio was in hospital it felt like my heart was in a different place.
“Often it would be 4am and I’d suddenly panic and feel the need to be with him so I’d rush to the hospital.
“It was the hardest time of our lives, but that feeling of bringing him home was indescribable.
“Walking through our front door with him in our arms it seemed like everything was right in the world – we are truly grateful.
“I want to raise awareness and let other mums who have pre mature babies know it’s not their fault and that they shouldn’t blame themselves.”