On June 8 last year, Wong Mei Ling, five months pregnant, was rushed to Singapore’s National University Hospital with abdominal pains.
Doctors told her she had preeclampsia, a form of dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy, and that she needed an emergency caesarean.
Concern only increased after the procedure: The new born baby girl, Kwek Yu Xuan, weighed only 7.5 ounces at birth, barely half of the weight doctors had expected. Roughly the same weight an apple or grapefruit, she appears to have been one of the smallest newborn babies on record to have survived.
After just more than thirteen months of medical care, Yu Xuan was released from hospital last month, the hospital announced this month, weighing nearly 14 pounds.
An article in Singapore’s Strait Times over the weekend brought Yu Xuan’s survival came to wide attention.
Yvonne Ng, a senior consultant at the neonatology department at National University Hospital, told the newspaper that the tiny size of the patient meant that the staff could not use standard forms of care, and had to improvise.
“She was so small that even the calculation for the medication had to be down to the decimal points,” Ng said.
Even diapers designed for premature babies were too big for Yu Xuan, staff told the Strait Times, so they would have to be cut down to size by nurses.
Yu Xuan may be among the smallest babies at birth to have ever survived. According to the University of Iowa’s Tiniest Babies Registry, a record of the world’s smallest surviving babies, the current record is a girl who was born in San Diego in 2018 who weighed 8.6 ounces. That girl was nicknamed “Saybie” by staff.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe how small she is,'” Paul Wozniak, a neonatologist at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns in San Diego who helped deliver Saybie, told The Post at the time.
In Singapore, Yu Xuan’s early life has been anything but easy. She continues to have problems with her lungs, which were not fully developed at the time of birth. The Strait Times reports that she still has lung disease and needs to be on a ventilator.
Wong and her husband, Kwek Wee Liang, who are from Malaysia but are permanent residents of Singapore, have had to remain in away from their family, including a young son, while they Yu Xuan recovered. The cost of the 13-month medical stay ran to well over $100,000, though they have been able to raise more than that through crowdfunding.
“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,” National University Hospital wrote on Facebook on Saturday.