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Blob Of Tissue Gets Honors At College


Madeline Mann, former blob of tissue, was born weighing only 9.9 ounces. You read that right, a little over half of one pound. She weighed less than a burger at Applebees. She was certainly not viable and her potential quality of life should not have entitled her to any of those unalienable rights that larger newborns are, for now, endowed by some mystical sky being.

There is a multi-billion dollar industry founded around the premise that such blobs of tissue are more expendable and less valuable than a pair of worn out parachute pants.

But this little blob of tissue did something special. She grew up. Not only did she grow up, but she has a quality of life better than that of even Kathleen Sebelius.

The report involves Madeline Mann, born in 1989 weighing 9.9 ounces, then the world record; and 7-year-old Rumaisa Rahman, whose 9.2-ounce birth weight remains the world's tiniest. Two other babies born since 1989 weighed less than Madeline and a German girl born was born last year at her same birth weight.
Madeline Mann
Madeline Mann, now 22, was born prematurely, weighing only 9.9 ounces. A medical report released in the journal Pediatrics details her progress and that of another tiny preemie, but says most babies born so small fare poorly.

Despite her extraordinary birth, Madeline, the college senior, says she rarely thinks about it, preferring instead to focus on her future.

"I'm the pretty normal, tough cookie, nice kinda girl," the 22-year-old wrote in an e-mail, the only way she would answer reporters. "I have normal interests and am a normal person, which I am very lucky to have become with so many things that could have impeded that process."

The millions of babies just as little as Madeline have their processes impeded every year. The report is quick to point out that most babies born so small fare poorly. Not quite as poorly as those not allowed to be born.

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Blackrep said...

When I think of the beauty, the wisdom, the intelligence, and the talent torn from humanity in tiny pieces, ripped up in some garbage disposal in the nightmarish hell-hole of an abortion clinic, I just weep. Then, I am angry.

I got a Christmas card from my sister today, and I noticed how beautiful her girls are. The youngest was a pound and a half when she was born. I remember my big hand covered her completely in her incubator. Now she's lovely and strong, an athlete with a wonderful, quirky sense of humor.

God damn abortion. What an evil waste.

Foxfier said...

Responding just to let you know that this was read. Nothing to add.

Matthew A. Siekierski said...

Ugh. "fare poorly". What a crock. What a horrible excuse to do nothing.

The article says "They should not be considered "a benchmark" to mean that doctors should try to save all babies so small, he said." Well, duh. There should be no "benchmark". That's a baby, you put in every effort to save that baby's life. Period.

I'm thankful for the doctors and nurses and respiratory technicians and the the rest who cared for my micropreemie. 3 surgeries, hearing aids (now unneeded), AFOs, she's definitely not faring poorly.

Matthew A. Siekierski said...

Reading the comments over there, I see a disturbing trend. And it's not in the idiots saying that these babies cost too much (jerks). It's in the people voicing support for micro-preemies.

It's this (paraphrased):
"He's perfectly fine."
"She has no major health problems."
"He's a productive member of society."
"She's lived a long life."

None of that matters when looking at whether or not one should attempt to save the life. But such a defense focuses on their later abilities and/or health. IT DOESN'T MATTER. You save the child. If the baby lives for 90 minutes or 90 years, you do all you can to save him. If the child has health problems, disabilities, and more, that's not important. You save his life. And don't use "quality of life" as a measure. Here's the math for idiots.
Dead: Quality of life = 0
Alive: Quality of life > 0

My daughter wouldn't have been less worth saving if she had Trisomy-18 or Cystic Fibrosis or any of the other potential diseases we were told about. Attempts to save her life wouldn't have been wasted if she had died at birth, or after 2 months, or after 2 years.

Not even trying is a betrayal of humanity.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Matthew. Amen!

Tammy said...

I am a prolife nurse who worked for years in a NICU. I love and treasure babies...Ive devoted my professional life to them...but the absolute truth is that there is a line of viability. If 18 weekers are non survivors and 23 1/2 weekers are survivors, there has to be a line in the sand....granted it will move a little with progress, but at some point, there are no alveoli to ventilate.

It is imperative that we take excellent care of all babies, but we need to face that no matter how much we love and value them, some babies are born in the process of dying and the standard of care needs to be palliative care. Aggressive care for non survivors is truly cruel. If you think I am wrong then go to Medical school or Nursing school and work in a NICU and care for a dying 22 weeker.

As prolifers, we need to understand the science of neonatology and quit throwing decent Christian physicians and nurses under busses because you think we should do the impossible.

We feed into the proabort mentality when we argue value by viability. A 18 or 19 weeker is a beautiful lovely person...they can be born alive, feel pain, be comforted, hear well....but they will never ever survive. They are no less miraculous and amazing than the 23 1/2 weekers that live and they ought not be killed to suit our capricious preferences.

Foxfier said...

Sounds kind of like the relative I have who supports the same for those whose quality of life she doesn't approve of.

Tammy said...

"Sounds kind of like the relative I have who supports the same for those whose quality of life she doesn't approve of."

By "the same" are you referring to palliative care?

Are you saying that medical professionals who provide palliative care for the dying don't value the lives of those in our care?

groovsmyth said...

Amen! Blackrep, Matthew and Tammy all have valid points. The value of human beings made in the image and likeness of God has nothing to do with viability. Madeline Mann is not an object lesson of value according to accomplishments. She's an example which illustrates the unique nature of humanity, ALWAYS worthy of protection from the moment of biological inception. THAT is the line in the sand! Extraordinary instead of palliative care will always depend on technological advances and the cutting edge standard-of-the-day. But just like end-of-life issues, we cannot allow a pro-death culture to devalue life or take away the benefit of the doubt. PERSONHOOD NOW!!!

priest's wife said...

Tammy- God bless your work- my super-big 32 weeker (4 lbs) spent 5 weeks in the NICU--- the department lost some babies during that time and I know how much it affects the nurses

Tammy said...

Priests wife, congratulations on taking your dear one home. It is normal to feel burdened at being admitted to the NICU and blessed to be discharged, When those nurses caring for the ones who died realized that the wee ones had gone past "the point of no return", they became palliative care nurses, not killers.

Life is a miracle, life is a blessing, but (unless the Lord returns) none of us will get out of this earthly adventure alive.

Matthew A. Siekierski said...

Tammy, there's a big difference between "no current medical treatment" and "it's not worth the money, based on the low likelihood of success." Too often I see dollar justification, or low chance of success, or a rationale of "if she survives she'll have a horrible life" (i.e., "fare poorly" from the article). That's what I was venting about.

I wasn't calling for the impossible. Medical professionals should do all within their power to save lives. If there's no treatment, there's no treatment...yet.

But when people draw lines in the sand (e.g., don't waste time/resources on babies less than 26 weeks gestation), they ignore that medicine advances all the time. Not only that, such lines dissuade research into improving technology in this area.

Thank you for what you do/did. Nurses like you were with my daughter for 4 months, 24/7, and I have their hard work to thank (along with God's graces) for her life. I remember well how dedicated the nurses in the NICU were, and how much they cared for their patients.

Tammy said...

Matthew, you are right - there is a big difference between those 2 ideas and you understand it.

I will say though...after working in NICUs in 5 states in hospitals big and small, I have never ever heard a Neonatologist say "no, this baby will cost too much money".

What is important to remember is that NICU care is a serious/possibly painful experience for the baby. Were getting better at analgesia in the NICU but it wasnt always so. Babies are blessed in that they dont remember it, but we see them in the moment. The first rule of ethics is "Do no harm" so if a baby has a life expectancy of zero, to stick them with a needle/tube / do possibly painful procedures on violates the first rule of ethics.

As a prolifer who understands this topic, it would be good if you could speak of it in your interactions with other prolifers who are interested in this topic to stop these kinds of inaccuracies:

This article quotes a neonatologist as saying that 18 weekers can survive. In 26 years, again all over the country, I have never ever met a Neonatologist who shared this opinion. That physician is entitled to his opinion, but before I started posting about this, I contacted a well respected Catholic Neonatologist in NYC and humbly asked her if there was some new research/innovations that I was unaware of and she said "No, in fact there is a growing resistance to aggressive treatment of 23 weekers lately, they just dont have enough lung tissue".

Yet, prolife media does stories from mothers saying "Why didnt they try, they could have tried". That doctor, who committed 12+ years to learning to care for sick infants assessed that aggressive therapy would cause the child pain with no chance of benefit (and YES, at that gestational age, 3 days DOES make a difference, it does). That physician was being hounded and accused in a harsh and accusatory manner for not doing the impossible.

Please refer to this article on gestational viability. http://www.nature.com/jp/journal/v28/n1s/full/jp200842a.html

We Catholics invented the scientific method and founded hospitals... even when we pray for miracles, there is no reason to now abandon our understanding of the science behind medicine.

Anna said...

Some of the "they should at least try" comes from the fact that no one really can pinpoint gestational age. Yes, those 3 days make a difference, but since ovulation can occur at + or - 3 days from peak (and even that accuracy would only be for those who are charting, which most people aren't), it's nearly impossible to say for sure that a baby is exactly x number of weeks/days along. So the arbitrary cut-off for treatment per some hospital policies (e.g. 24 weeks) should be more of a guideline rather than an absolute "well, this baby is one day shy of x weeks, so we won't treat." Hospital policies should allow doctors to assess in more detail at birth, rather than having the decision made by general policy when the mother is admitted.

Tammy said...


You are right. When parents or staff want the baby assessed by a Neo, it is reasonable to insist that the baby be looked at. American Academy of Pediatrics / Neo Resus guidelines recommend a physical exam.

Everywhere Ive ever worked, the neonatologist made the determination, not "hospital policy"....and both policy and practice were very lenient and generous leaning towards life.

The "policies" I have seen quoted in media cases were also really very lenient in favor of life....yet no matter where the line is drawn, people get mad. I gravitate towards articles on this topic and Ive never read one where I thought the hospital or Neonatologist acted inappropriately. There was a respectful, reasonable, ethical, kind guideline that was followed and the hospital and staff were written of as if they were cold killers.

What I speak of is if the prenatal record and the physical exam both indicate <23 weeks. I can tell you that it is NOT a physician standing there saying "this will be expensive and they have a low quality of life and I don't value handicapped children"...what the Neonatologist is thinking is "if I admit the baby, they will be on a vent for 3 days and die...it would be more meaningful for this mom and significantly less pain for the baby if they stay with their mother".

Cases need to stay in context though ...a few weeks ago, we had a mom who had a 23/0 baby and she had general anesthesia, so she didn't see the baby at birth. The Neo at first said he would non resuscitate but changed his mind and the baby was admitted to the NICU. He has a rough course despite wonderful care, coded twice and finally had an unsurvivable brain hemorrhage. By the time he got to this point, the mom had recovered enough from surgery to have meaningful time with him. The parenting she got to do in those days was really important and pivotal in her healing and self concept as a parent. The baby died in their arms after 2 or 3 days. A chum of mine in another hosp relayed a very similar story with same outcome and that family needed those 2 or 3 days. I am not a huge fan of 3 days of pain followed by inevitable death, but these cases did teach me that we need to look at each family and their needs as individuals.

Truly and honestly...I am so glad that Im not the neonatologist...I wouldn't want to be the person who had to make that final call. What I hoped to do in this thread was to inform that tough calls DO have to be made & sometimes death is inevitable, but that the factors being considered in the decision are NOT what many prolifers perceive them to be.... I honestly hope this has been helpful and instructive, not overbearing and rigid.

Dirtdartwife said...

Wow, thanks to all that posted. I was a 30weeker premie and if it wasn't for a new doc that had just been assigned to the itty bitty, back woods hospital I was born in, and recognized what my condition was and knew how to treat it, I most certainly would have died. He knew of the cutting edge technology and treatments for premies and was able to help me.

God knows what He's doing with these babies and doctors and it is amazing to watch the medical knowledge of the medical field and doctors/nurses, but also the sheer strength of the fight in these little ones.

Anonymous said...


Were glad the right doctor was in the right place to save you !!

My cousin (almost 50 yrs old ) was born tiny with a severe birth defect and they say she was saved by a doctor who was "just walking by". My cousin is WAYYY smart and has a lovely family

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