A Nebraska infant, who is one of the smallest babies ever born in the state, has been making great strides.
Born on Dec. 18, 2015, Nathan Ray Teply has overcome many obstacles in his short life. During week 24 of her pregnancy, Mary Teply was diagnosed with Preeclampsia and made the difficult decision to have a C-section.
"I knew something was off," Mary told WOWT News. "My [obstetrician] knew something was off the way I looked. I was swelled from head to toe."
Born 16 weeks ahead of schedule, Nathan weighed 14.99 ounces and was 10 inches long.
"It's very closest to the smallest baby in the country," Dr. Khalid Awad, a neonatologist with Methodist Women's Hospital, said. "There have been others this size, but it's one of the smallest ones."
"His first picture, I have my pinky next to his hand," Eric Teply, Mary's wife and Nathan's father, recalled. "And my nail of my pinky is as big as his hand. It's amazing!"
During the first few months of Nathan’s life, he suffered from pneumonia, kidney failure, a brain bleed, lung collapse and stomach issues, according to the family’s GoFundMe page. The page was created to help Mary and Eric pay Nathan's medical expenses, and as of March 22, it has raised over $1,600 of its $5,000 goal.
"Luckily based off that HeRO system they were able to catch [the pneumonia] early and get him on antibiotics, start labs right away which probably saved his life," Mary told WOWT News.
In accordance with the HeRO system, Nathan's heart rate was continually watched in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so doctors would know when Nathan's heart rate was not consistent. Methodist Women's Hospital, where Nathan is being treated, is the first NICU in the region to use this new technology.
Despite the medical complications Nathan suffered through, both family members and health care professionals alike are amazed at his progress.
"It's amazing," Mary said, according to KTVI Mews. "I enjoy every little gram that we gain, every night and every change he makes every day."
"[Nathan] is definitely the exception and not the rule for babies born that are that size when it just comes to survival," Dr. Dan Connealy said. "He is doing well, but still has some goals to achieve before he goes home."
Nathan weighs nearly 5 pounds now, but before leaving the hospital, doctors want him to be able to eat without a feeding tube and breathe without an oxygen machine.
"For him to be here, still," Eric told WOWT News. "It's a miracle. It really is."
Mary wants her experience to help other expectant months be more aware of Preeclampsia.
"From the minute I saw his first ultrasound I knew he was going to be a fighter," Mary said. "He had his hands up to his face in the ultrasound like he was fighting, he had his fists up."