Premature SoCal baby born the size of a soda can shows miraculous improvement

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
SoCal baby born the size of a soda can showing miraculous improvement
Baby Ellyannah Lopez weighed less than a pound at birth. Months later, she continues to thrive at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles despite a very low chance of survival.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A baby born weighing less than a pound is bringing in 2024 in a big way.

Ellyannah Lopez of Gardena may be the smallest preemie ever seen at Cedars-Sinai, but she continues to thrive despite a very low chance of survival.

When 7-month-old Ellyannah was born she was roughly the size of a soda can.

"She was born so small that no one, none of the doctors in that operating room thought that she would cry. And when she did, I could hear everybody saying, 'Is that is that her?'" said Cecia Juarez, Ellyannah's mother.

The NICU at Cedars-Sinai is equipped to handle the most fragile of preemies, but Ellyannah is among the tiniest ever seen at that hospital.

"Less than probably 1% of all births are delivered before 26 weeks. Most challenging for babies this early and this small to deal with are immature lungs, and therefore relying a lot on breathing support," said Dr. Seth Langston with Cedar-Sinai Guerin Children's.

Ellyannah was the first baby at that hospital to use a high frequency ventilator known as a jet.

Now 12 pounds, Ellyannah is a miracle in many ways. Her parents, Cecia and Boris, had tried for eight years to have a child. Just when they were about to seek fertility care, Cecia became pregnant.

"No medication required, so we knew that our baby would be nothing short of a miracle, right?" she said.

But at 20 weeks, Ellyannah wasn't getting food through her umbilical cord and Cecia's blood pressure was out of control. Doctors feared continuing the pregnancy would be life-threatening to both. So despite the risks, the couple and their medical team knew they had to deliver.

"We were going to give her all the chances," Cecia said.

Ellyannah was so frail that for 54 days, her parents couldn't hold her.

"We do everything possible to get that mom or get the dad to hold their baby skin to skin because it helps," Langston said.

Finally in her parents' arms, Ellyannah fought for every breath.

"She was kicking. And she's been doing that since day one. She's been fighting," Cecia said.

"She still has a long way to go. You know, she's still working on her breathing. She also has to figure out how to eat," Langston said. "Preterm babies like Ellyannah, they've been through so much that they just have a lot of ground to catch up on."

The last several months have been a roller coaster for little Ellyanna, and she still faces some major health issues. But her parents say they can see the light at the end of the tunnel and they believe 2024 is going to be the turning point for their amazing fighter.

"No matter how small your beginning might be, there's great things ahead of you," Cecia read to her baby. "And I'll love you whoever you grow up to be."