When Yu Xuan was born in June 2020, she weighed a mere 7.5 ounces. Coming in at about the same weight as an apple, the tiny newborn faced a litany of complications from being born so early.
Parents Kwek Wee Liang and Wong Mei Ling of Malaysia, who also have a son, welcomed Yu Xuan into the world early because Wong Mei Ling was suffering from preeclampsia, and had to deliver right away.
So, nearly four months early, the “world’s smallest known baby” was delivered via c-section at Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) at just shy of 25 weeks.
“I didn’t expect to give birth so quickly, and we were very sad that Yu Xuan was born so small,” Wong told The Straits Times. “But due to my condition, we didn’t have a choice. We could just hope that she would continue to grow (and be healthy).”
When veteran nurse Zhang Suhe first saw the preemie, she could barely believe her eyes.
“I was shocked so I spoke to the professor (in the same department) and asked if he could believe it,” she said. “In my 22 years of being a nurse, I haven’t seen such a small newborn baby.”
The baby was so tiny that her care team had to come up with new, innovative treatments and calculate her medications with extra care. Nurses had to be extremely careful with the baby’s fragile skin, and they had to cut diapers down to size just to fit her.
“There are some chemicals in the diaper to absorb the baby’s urine, and this can’t come into direct contact with Yu Xuan’s skin,” Zhang explained. “So we had to fold and seal the edges … these are the things we had to do for her, because caring for her skin is very, very important.”
Though her condition was very serious, the baby soon became “a ray of hope amid turmoil,” her fight giving those around her hope as the pandemic took hold.
After over a year of care in the NICU, Yu Xuan was finally able to go home. She still struggles with chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, but doctors believe she will get better as she grows. The Guinness World Records website currently lists her as the record-holder for “lightest birth.”
Yu Xuan was discharged in July, weighing almost 14 pounds, and the hospital shared her story with the world to celebrate.
“Baby Yu Xuan was just 212gms — barely the weight of a large apple — when she was delivered via emergency C-section in June last year,” the NUH shared on Facebook on Aug. 7. “After 13 months in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, baby Yu Xuan was discharged home well. She is likely the world’s lightest baby to have survived a premature birth.
“We are happy for the little fighter and her family, and proud of the care provided by our team. Our best wishes to Little Yu Xuan as she continues to grow, thrive and beat the odds every day.”
“It was a difficult journey for Yu Xuan and we greatly appreciate the concerted effort and benevolent support from our colleagues, donors as well as the larger community who have contributed to her survival and growth,” the senior consultant at the hospital’s Department of Neonatology, Zubair Amin, said, according to CNN.
“This was a team effort that embodies the spirit of care and compassion.”