By DAMIEN GAYLE
A little fighter: Melinda Star Guido holds her mother's little finger while lying in an incubator at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center yesterday
The third smallest baby ever to be born and survive is thriving, doctors say, after she entered the world almost four months before she was due.
Melinda Star Guido weighed roughly the same as two iPhones when was born 16 weeks premature at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Centre on August 30. She was due today.
But after round the clock care at the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Melinda is now tipping the scales at 4.12lb and her parents hope to have her home by New Year's Day.
Melinda, with her mother's fingers in the shot, in the neonatal intensive care unit just after she was born
Her mother, Haydee Ibarra, 22, told LA Now: 'She was always fighting, all the nurses were saying that she was really feisty, she was always fighting for her life.'
Miss Ibarra had to deliver Melinda by Caesarian section at just 24 weeks because of a high blood pressure disorder that both their lives at risk.
She received round-the-clock care from doctors and specialists in the neonatal unit, who say she is the smallest there in 30 years
Almost every day, her mother would spend all day sat by her bedside, and stayed overnight whenever she was able to.
During her pregnancy, Miss Ibarra suffered from high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for both mother and foetus.
She was transferred from a hospital near her San Fernando Valley home to the county's flagship hospital, which was better equipped to handle high-risk pregnancies.
There was a problem with the placenta, the organ that nourishes the developing foetus. Melinda was not getting proper nutrition, blood and oxygen.
Melinda was delivered by caesarean section at 24 weeks and was immediately transferred to the NICU where a team of doctors and nurses kept watch around the clock.
After a four-month fight for her life, baby Melinda, pictured here in her incubator with her mother, Haydee Ibarra, looking on, is now tipping the scales at 4.12lb
Miss Ibarra cradles her daughter, who she has described as her 'little miracle'
Doctors knew Melinda would weigh less than a pound, but they were surprised at how small and fragile she was.
Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan, who oversees premature infants, told the Associated Press: 'The first few weeks, it was touch and go. None of us thought the baby was going to make it,'
Even if she survived, doctors told Miss Ibarra and her husband Yovani Guido, children born this extremely premature can have developmental delays and impairments such as blindness, deafness or cerebral palsy.
Miss Ibarra touches Melinda's tiny toes. She must still be fed through tubes but doctors hope to discharge her by New Year's Day
Melinda has her eyes checked by ophthalmologist John Hwang as her mother looks on
Her mother said her skin felt like plastic because it was so thin. A month after she was born, she was treated for an eye disorder that's common in premature babies.
But Melinda faced her biggest test last month when she underwent surgery to close an artery that usually seals after birth.