The family of a micro-preemie who weighed just 1 pound, 5 ounces at birth celebrated the child’s one-year birthday on Jan. 10 after the little boy spent 155 stays in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) — defying all odds.
“He was under a pound-and-a-half and 23 weeks and two days,” Samantha Smith, a neonatal nurse practitioner at Pediatrix Neonatology of Texas and Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin, told Fox News Digital.
“So he was kind of on the edge of viability, which is about 22 weeks,” she said.
Smith said that baby Amandi Omokore-Allen’s chance of survival, considering his age and size, was less than 10%.
Parents Tolulope Omokore and Patrick Allen were expecting twin boys last May.
But in January 2022, at 22.5 weeks, Omokore experienced spotting — and then received the heartbreaking news that one of her babies had died in utero, she said.
Omokore learned she had experienced a complication known as premature rupture of membranes, in which the amniotic sac breaks open and slowly begins leaking.
“There were a lot of emotions,” Omokore told Fox News Digital. “The doctors told us, ‘Hey, you’re going to be here until you give birth’ — which we hoped would be May.”
Omokore said doctors explained the difference between a “23-weeker” and a “24-weeker,” plus the difference each week makes in a baby’s development.
“In my mind, I’m talking to Amandi, saying, ‘Please just stay in there,’” Omokore said about her surviving son who was not yet born.
Doctors tried to delay Omokore’s labor with medication — but one week later, at only 23 weeks, Amandi was born.
He weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces.
“I’m thinking, I’ve just lost one – am I going to lose both of them?”
Omokore also gave birth to, and was able to hold, her son Asaiah, who had died one week earlier in utero.
“It was a very bittersweet moment,” Omokore said.
“I was able to hold Asaiah, but they took Amandi straight from me to the incubator because, of course, every second counts. And I’m thinking, I’ve just lost one — am I going to lose both of them?”
Amandi remained under the care of Smith and her Pediatrix team.
He was initially on a ventilator and had a collapsed lung, requiring a chest tube, Smith told Fox News Digital.
“He was relatively stable for a baby that age and size,” Smith said.
“But we use the words ‘critically stable’ because they are such premature infants. He’s quite the survivor.”
Amandi also had feeding intolerance that required continuous gavage feeds. He also developed pneumonia about six weeks in — and had a pulmonary hemorrhage.
Such complications are not uncommon in babies of Amandi’s size and those born at that gestation, Smith said.
After two weeks, Omokore finally got to hold her newborn son for the first time.
“That was amazing,” Omokore said.
“But it was also nerve-wracking because he was intubated. They were so careful. And he loved it. I was warm and he was warm. They said skin-to-skin is so good. And I was like, ‘Wow.’”
Each day, Amandi got a little stronger, despite some expected setbacks.
Smith said Omokore’s eagerness to be part of her son’s journey — and to learn everything she could as he progressed — was key to his ability to thrive.
“She would ask questions, and she would talk to all the physicians,” Smith said. “She knew us by [our] first names and we knew her by [hers]. She was very much a part of his care at the bedside.”
Amandi was given less than a 10% chance to survive after he was born at 23 weeks on Jan. 10, 2022.
Omokore said she took notes every day and learned everything she could about Amandi’s condition.
As Amandi continued to improve, Omokore was able to return to her job as a sales representative for Austin-based Oracle.
She said the company was supportive of her situation.
“I worked at home from eight to five,” Omokore said. “But I would go to see him right after work. Or sometimes I would leave early and take customer calls in the [hospital] lobby.”
After more than five months in the NICU, on June 14, Amandi reached all of his milestones in order to “graduate.”
“He’s quite the survivor.”
The staff lined the hallway and cheered for Amandi and his parents as they prepared to go home.
“Everyone was clapping and crying,” Omokore said.
“I was hugging everyone. And I was thinking about Asaiah as well.”
The family has since moved to Severn, Maryland, and one-year-old Amandi weighs 20 pounds, 15 ounces.
He is right now crawling backwards, Omokore said.
“He’s in the 43rd percentile in weight,” Omokore said. “The pulmonologist was showing me his chart — and just to think, he started at that 1-pound mark.”
As for Smith, she said she remembers Amandi’s fragile first two weeks of life, when everyone was watching and hoping.
“He always had his eyes open,” Smith said about Amandi as a tiny patient.
“He always had a bright spirit. He fought. He definitely fought,” she said.
“And it was just really something to watch,” she added. “It’s been an honor to watch that. It’s why we do what we do.”