Israel’s Youngest Miracle: 22-week preemie youngest ever to survive

Having been released from the hospital this week, “baby Aharon” is a living miracle and has earned the distinction of being the most prematurely born baby ever to survive in Israel.

Born at just 22 weeks of gestation in April and weighing 670 grams (1.4 lbs), Aharon was privy to excellent medical care, but also benefitted from a medical error. Due to a miscalculation, Aharon was presumed to be born at 23 weeks which enabled him to receive treatment after his birth.

Israeli hospitals have a policy to not intensively treat babies born at 22 weeks or earlier and a neonatal care expert may not even be present at these births.

The odds of survival for a baby born after 22 weeks are low. According to a study published last year in The New England Journal Of Medicine, few 22-week-old babies survived without intense medical intervention. In 78 cases when the babies were treated, only 18 survived and only seven of them without moderate to severe disabilities.

In fact, doctors told Aharon’s father from the start that his son had only a small chance of survival.

“The doctors here were honest; they came and told me straight to my face,” Eli Haba told Channel 2 news (Hebrew). “They told me that he had a 20 percent chance of survival. And even if was one of the 20 percent and did survive, there was a 90 percent chance he would have disabilities.”

Aharon’s mother, Roxanne Yun, told Channel 2, “I prayed for him to be strong, to fight. I came here and told him, ‘Be strong! Mom and Dad love you.’ He is my son, my son needs my love.”

Professor Dror Mandel, director of neonatology at Ichilov, admitted that the miscalculation likely played a factor in Aharon’s treatment.

“It may be that if we had not been ‘mistaken,’ thinking that he was a week older, he would not be alive today,” Mandel said. “In medicine you also need luck sometimes, just like everything in life.”

Though Aharon was released from the hospital, his development will be closely monitored.