‘It’s a miracle,’ Kennewick family recounts on extreme preemie journey

KENNEWICK, Wash. — “I wanted to plan everything, set everything up for her and everything but,” Kennewick Mother Lizet Robles said.

Sometimes, however, life has other plans.

“Sometimes I look at her and I can’t believe she’s there, I just can’t,” Lizet said of her baby girl, Savannah.

Kennewick couple Lizet and Francisco Robles, who also have two sons, said it was hard to believe their happy and healthy 17-pound daughter had a difficult start to life.

She was born on July 19, 2021, at 22 weeks and three days gestation.

“I felt so guilty, I felt like I had done something to her,” Lizet said.

Last year the Kennewick couple were delighted to learn they were expecting a baby girl in early 2021 and Lizet said her third pregnancy is going well.

“Everything was going perfectly fine, my 20 week scan went well,” she recalls.

Then at 21 weeks.

“I just felt a little bad,” she said.

After a visit to the emergency room and her doctor‘s office, Lizet learned that she had dilated two centimeters, far too soon for little Savannah.

Then her doctor called.

“He said, ‘I want you to drive to Seattle, to UW, they’re going to check you out and hopefully we can set up a strapping. I was admitted there until – who knows when. I remember crying and begging for her, but they said we were going to do our best, we are going to prepare the NICU team and wait until they decide to come,” Lizet said.

Doctors told Lizet that the outcome for a baby born less than 23 weeks old was grim, but they would do their best to save her. Until January 2021 at UW Medicine’s Montlake campus, there may have been no chance for babies like Savannah, but thanks to new research and a UW Extreme Preemie program, she had a chance to fight.

“We went live back in January 2021 where our first baby was 23 weeks gestation where we attempted resuscitation,” said Dr Thomas Strandjord.

The medical team was just months away from renewed efforts to save babies born before 23 weeks, when little Savannah needed their care. Lizet said they did everything to keep her indoors and gave her steroids to help stimulate her lungs and then she went into labor and delivered Savannah at just one pound and three ounces.

“Has been surprisingly successful and half of the babies we cared for at 22 weeks gestation survived to go home,” Dr Strandjord said.

The months following Savannah’s birth were filled with trips to and from Seattle, procedures, an operation, ups and downs.

“I just wanted her to be okay,” Lizet said.

The only day, in January of this year.

“We finally got a call and they said – we think she’s ready to go home and I just cried – I remember crying because I couldn’t believe it, you know, it’s been so long,” Lizet said.

Today Savannah is weaned off an oxygen tank and sees a physical therapist.

“She’s just living life, her little attitude, her fieryness hasn’t changed, it’s just amazing.”

The Robles family said they would be forever grateful to the team of doctors and nurses who helped save their daughter’s life.

“I’m forever grateful – like I wish I had the chance to say goodbye to each and every one of them and just thank them – thanks to them, she’s here.”

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