Micro preemie who stayed in NICU for 122 days reunites with hospital staff who saved her life

If it weren’t for the medical staff’s swift action at this Long Island hospital, Mikayla Petti wouldn’t have made it.

Maria Petti was 24 weeks into her pregnancy in February when she sensed that something was wrong. She alerted her husband, Andrew, and told him they had to go to the hospital. But a few moments after starting the car, the unthinkable happened.

“We were only a few blocks away from the house and Maria started screaming that the baby was coming out,” Andrew recalled. “It was in her pant leg.”

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The couple wanted to go to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit, but the baby’s early arrival made that impossible. So instead, Andrew pulled up to St. Joseph’s emergency room in Bethpage, New York, near their house. The hospital didn’t even have a labor and delivery department, but they were left with no choice.

“I ran into the front door and I said, ‘My wife is 24 weeks pregnant. The baby just came out in the car,'” Andrew said. “Everyone’s jaw dropped and they said pull around to the ambulatory bay.”

Dr. John Mathew and other medical staff rushed out to meet them.

“He showed her to me and said, ‘She’s really tiny. I’m going to do the best that I can,'” Maria said.

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The doctor clamped the cord for the baby and brought her inside.

“Once we clamp the cord, everything changes for a child — the lungs are actually utilized for the first time,” Dr. Mathew told Good Morning America. “We were prepared, but in a little bit of shock.”

“Typically at 24 weeks, that’s a very critical point for the child regardless of what resuscitation I give that child,” he added.

The micro-preemie was born on February 15, 2020, 16 weeks before her expected due date. She weighed 1 pound and 9 ounces.
Mikayla was then placed in an infant warmer, and Dr. Mathew resuscitated her for about 90 minutes before she was transferred to another hospital.

A neonatal transport team from Cohen Children’s Medical Center finally arrived and brought Mikayla to North Short University Hospital in Manhasset. The baby had successful heart surgery for a murmur in the facility, and it’s also where she spent the first 122 days of her life.

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Because of the pandemic, NICU visitations became limited to one parent per day for an hour. The Pettis were able to hold their miracle baby for the first time 10 days after she was born. Today, Mikayla is thriving and is heavier at 9 pounds and 3 ounces. She’s even reaching baby milestones!

“She rolled over for the first time,” Maria said. “She’s defying all odds of what a micro preemie baby should be doing.”

On August 5, the Petti family reunited with Dr. Mathew and the nurses who saved Mikayla’s life. The doctor had been checking in with them ever since they left St. Joseph.

“We have this young life who wants to survive despite all the death we’ve seen [during COVID-19],” Dr. Mathew said. “It was really precious to see this little girl who knows how to fight all obstacles.”

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Maria said the doctor and nurses at the hospital deserve to be honored for their work and for saving her daughter’s life.

“They are amazing people and what they do every day – the emotional and physical support to the families, to caring for these babies like their own, it has left a lasting impression on us,” she said.

Doctors expect that Mikayla will live a long and healthy life, and they have Dr. Mathew to thank for doing everything he could to take care of her during the first minutes of her life.

Given her incredible birth story, Mikayla’s parents hope she grows up to be a NICU nurse.

This little girl is a real fighter! Watch the video below and share this story to inspire other parents of premature babies.