CHICAGO -- A premature infant believed to be the smallest baby ever to survive was called "a great blessing" yesterday by her mother, who is preparing to take the little girl and her twin sister home from the hospital.
The baby, named Rumaisa, weighed 8.6 ounces -- less than a can of soda -- when she was delivered by Caesarean section Sept. 19 at Loyola University Medical Center. That is 1.3 ounces smaller than the previous record holder, who was born at the same the hospital in 1989, according to hospital spokeswoman Sandra Martinez.
Rumaisa, her twin, Hiba, and their parents were introduced yesterday at a news conference at the hospital in suburban Maywood. The girls were bundled in identical striped blankets.
Their mother, Mahajabeen Shaik, said she didn't "have the words to say how thankful I was" when she first got to hold her children in their second month.
"It's a blessing, it's a great blessing," she said.
Hospital officials said they are doing so well that Hiba, who weighed 1 pound and 4 ounces at birth, could be released from the hospital by the end of this month, with Rumaisa following as early as the first week of January.
Rumaisa now weighs 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Her twin weighs 5 pounds.
"They're maintaining their temperature; they don't need an incubator. They're taking their bottles," said Dr. William MacMillan. "They're normal babies."
Shaik, 23, developed preeclampsia, a disorder characterized by high blood pressure and other problems, during pregnancy. The condition endangered Rumaisa and her mother, prompting a C-section at 26 weeks. Normal gestation is 40 weeks.
Shaik and her husband, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, 32, said they are looking forward to bringing their children home. The couple, originally from Hyderabad, India, live in the suburb of Hanover Park.
"We want them to be good human beings, good citizens, and she wants them to be doctors," said Rahman, looking at his wife.
Madeline Mann, the previous record holder as smallest known surviving preemie, returned to Loyola Hospital earlier this year for a celebration. Now 15, she was described as a lively honor student, though small for her age, at 4-feet-7.