They are calling her the “ghost white baby.” For the parents of little Hope Juarez, they thought they would have to say goodbye to their infant daughter just a few hours after her birth. Hope was born with such a low count of hemoglobin, reports Yahoo! Shine on Tuesday, that doctors classified her as having no blood.
Miraculously, Hope has now lived for close to six weeks, thanks to emergency surgeries that built up Hope’s blood count. She is now a healthy pink color and continues to do well.
For dad Josh Juarez, he’ll never forget the first few moments after Hope’s birth, when doctors attempted to prick his infant’s foot to draw a little blood.
“She was crying and they brought her over to us and she was really pale,” said Juarez. “I knew that something was really wrong when they started pricking at her feet trying to get blood to come out and there was no blood coming out.”
Hours before Hope was born, she suffered a fetal-maternal hemorrhage. All of her blood had simply drained out of her body. While some blood loss – around two percent – during birth is expected, Hope lost almost all of hers.
“She probably lost about 80 percent or more. She was pale. She was really white,” said Dr. Marielle Nguyen, a neonatologist at the Irvine Medical Center in California where Hope was born.
A normal level of hemoglobin, the protein which carries oxygen in red blood cells, is 18. Hope was born with a hemoglobin level of just 3, which meant the plasma in her blood could not even be classified as proper blood.
Doctors do not know what caused the severe blood loss. Absent trauma to the mother, such as a car accident or severe fall that could cause a placental rupture, there is no medical explanation as to why a fetus spontaneously loses its blood. Most cases result in stillborn deaths.
Doctors credit Hope’s mother Jennifer with alerting them right away that something wasn’t right. Jennifer noticed when her baby stopped moving and kicking and sought medical attention. If she had waited even an hour or two, Hope would have died.
"Go into the doctor. Get checked. Your baby's life may depend on it," Jennifer encouraged.
In 2012, The Telegraph reported on a 6-month-old who lived through a similar complication, only the second "ghost white baby" born in recent years to survive.