Medical miracle but ethical dilemma
Only 24 weeks into her pregnancy, Haydee Ibarra’s doctors told her that her baby wasn’t getting the blood and oxygen she needed to survive.
If she stayed inside the womb, the baby would certainly die. If she was born, her chances weren’t much better and she could face a lifetime of health complications.
Ibarra, 22, and Yovani Guido, 24, implored the doctors to do everything possible to save their daughter. And they did.
PHOTOS: The third smallest baby on record
On Aug. 30, Melinda Guido was born four months premature at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center. She weighed just over 9 ounces —the smallest baby ever born in California and the second smallest in the United States.
“It was scary,” Ibarra told reporters Thursday outside the hospital. “Everybody was telling me the same thing: that she wasn’t going to be able to make it, that she was too tiny.”
Melinda is now four pounds, one ounce. But her future is uncertain. And the decision to employ all the technological innovations available to save her life has raised ethical questions no one can answer.
Should doctors intervene with medications, surgeries and heroic efforts to save babies who may face lifelong health problems — if they live at all? And who should make the call, given the large costs that can fall on the public?
“We are in uncharted territory,” said Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan, chief of the neonatology section at the county hospital. “It’s very difficult to say if this baby is going to be normal.”