During his State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Donald Trump will introduce the country to little Ellie Schneider, a girl born at 21 weeks 6 days gestation. If she was born just three days earlier, she would’ve been the youngest baby to ever survive a premature birth. Her inclusion in the SOTU is a powerful testament of life.
“She is one of the youngest babies to survive in the United States. With the help of an incredible medical team—and the prayers of her parents and their community—Ellie kept beating the odds, exceeding milestones, and fighting for life. Today, Ellie is a happy, healthy two-year-old girl who brings endless joy to her mother, Robin, and her entire family,” according to the White House.
Ellie was born so early that most hospitals in her Kansas City home could not treat her, except for the faith-based hospital St. Luke’s. She weighed only slightly more than a can of soda and was about as long as a sheet of paper. At 21 weeks, she was so vulnerable, but she was a fighter.
Dr. Barbara Carr, the neonatologist who worked with Ellie, said that the hospital’s success rate for micro-preemies (babies born before 24 weeks) is about 50%, which is much higher than the national average.
“She had all the odds stacked against her,” Carr said. “She had parents that had a very deep faith. They just continued to believe, we all kept working on and continuing to believe in her and she did well.”
But it was not an easy process. Baby Ellie could not even cry until she was four months old.
Ellie’s mother, Robin, wrote on Facebook, “The baby here and Eliora (Ellie) as we know her now are two completely different babies. This little girl was so, so sick, in constant pain, barely hanging on, and as tiny as a baby bird. Our Ellie now is happy, healthy and rolly as can be. In similar ways we have all changed on the inside. My heart was so weak, but now I know I can face anything, as long as I have God and good friends.
It’s difficult to imagine that babies at Ellie’s age are aborted every year. These are not just “blobs of tissue,” but living human beings. It’s powerful to show the country that babies as young as 21 weeks 6 days gestation can not only survive but thrive with the proper medical intervention.
When it comes to premature births, in many ways, it all depends on the hospital and doctors. That Ellie has survived her first two years of life is not only a testament to her, but a powerful reminder that neonatal intensive care unit medicine is improving all the time. Who knows, perhaps even a baby born at 13 or 15 weeks would be able to survive one day in some type of artificial womb. That’s an exciting thought, and one that will hopefully forever chase away the specter of abortion.