Premature Baby Born 18 Weeks Early Released from Hospital in Time for the Holidays: 'Grateful'

Jimena "JC" Macias spent Thanksgiving with her family after she was born 18 weeks early, weighing 1 lb., 9 oz.

Baby Born 18 Weeks Early Heads Home for the Holidays
Photo: Courtesy Memorial Hermann

A premature baby born 18 weeks early in Texas was discharged from the hospital just in time to come home to her family for the holidays.

Jimena "JC" Macias weighed 1 lb., 9 oz., and measured 11 inches long when she was born on April 29, per KHOU 11. At the time, JC's mom, Juana Gallegos, began to feel sick and later went into labor when she was just 22 weeks pregnant.

Gallegos said doctors told her "they weren't going to be able to resuscitate her or be able to do anything for her if she was born there, at that time, that early." To give her daughter the best possible chance, Gallegos went to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center in Shenandoah, Texas.

At Memorial Hermann, which features a level III neonatal intensive care unit, Gallegos gave birth to JC, who was put on a ventilator and given nutrition through an IV.

Following 112 days in the NICU, JC was officially cleared to go home with her family, KHOU 11 reports.

Gallegos, who enjoyed Thanksgiving this year with JC at home, told the news outlet that she was unsure if her daughter would be discharged in time for the holiday. "On day one, day two, day 30 … I didn't think it would be possible to spend the holidays together," she said. "God had other plans."

JC's father, Eduardo Macias, also told KHOU 11 that he and Gallegos are thankful for their newborn, saying, "We see it in a different point of view as grateful, because we wouldn't experience that if she wasn't here."

Baby Born 18 Weeks Early Heads Home for the Holidays
Courtesy Memorial Hermann

While JC is no longer in the NICU, she is still undergoing physical therapy, though doctors say the baby is right on track for all of her milestones.

Premature babies are categorized as any baby born more than three weeks before their estimated due date, according to the Mayo Clinic. Premature babies, like JC, can have "complicated medical problems" and often "need a longer hospital stay in a special nursery unit at the hospital."

Dr. Rebecca Ballard, a neonatologist with the Memorial Hermann/Pediatrix Medical Group of Texas, told KHOU 11 that JC is a "miraculous" case.

"While I wish this story would happen with every baby born this early, it's not possible," Ballard said. "Not to think her story represents every baby, but it makes it so much more miraculous that it happened."

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