They say every baby is a miracle. Some, however, face unusually long odds, from difficult pregnancies to harrowing births. Others had to defy the basic rules of science and medicine to be conceived at all. Here, six recent miracle babies whose stories made headlines:
1. The baby whose mom was set on fire, shot, and left for dead
This spring, three weeks before her due date, a pregnant 22-year-old Michigan woman was abducted, bound with duct tape, forced into a car, and driven to an empty parking lot. Her attacker doused her with lighter fluid, set her on fire, and shot her in the back. The young woman played dead until the assailant drove off, then freed herself and got help. She went into early labor and her baby boy was delivered via C-section. "She has to be one of the most courageous women I have ever encountered," says Louis Galasso, deputy police commissioner in the Detroit suburb where the attack occurred. The baby's father and his roommate have been charged in the crime.
2. The baby who received blood transfusions in the womb
When Katrina Dorroch, a Scottish woman, was diagnosed with parvovirus late in her pregnancy last year, her unborn baby developed a rare, potentially fatal condition called Hydrops. Then things got worse: The baby's organs started shutting down; his mother developed Mirror Syndrome, and her organs started shutting down, too. Doctors quickly gave the baby three intra-uterine transfusions, each consisting of about a teaspoon of O negative blood. The baby, now named Alex, is a year old and healthy, and his parents are participating in a campaign to urge others to donate blood, saying that's what saved their "wee miracle."
3. The baby whose conception itself was a miracle
Ohio residents Jennifer and Jason Schiraldi went to a fertility clinic and were told there was no sperm in Jason's semen sample. The news hit him hard: "It was as if somebody punched me in the chest." But the couple didn't give up. At the Cleveland Clinic's in vitro fertility lab, doctors performed a special operation on Jason to search for sperm, and after several hours, they found a single, lonely sperm. (A typical sample contains 60 million.) After further challenges — the lone sperm had to be frozen, then thawed, and it took three cycles for Jennifer to produce a viable egg — their 1-in-60-million shot worked, and the couple's daughter, Kenley — now 1 — was conceived.
4. The baby born after 22 years of parental infertility
Paula Lackie and her first husband tried to get pregnant for 22 years. Along the way, the Scottish couple adopted two children. When Paula missed her period, she figured she was starting menopause. Seven pregnancy tests later, she realized that her dream of getting pregnant had finally come true, at age 43. In April, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Isla, with her new husband Grant. "Every time I look at this beautiful miracle baby in my arms I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming," she tells Britain's Daily Mail.
5. The baby whose tiny weight almost defied the laws of science
Nicki Moore delivered her baby girl in January after just 24 weeks of pregnancy, and the girl weighed just 9 ounces. Doctors told the North Carolina woman that the almost historically small baby had less than a 1-in-10 chance of surviving. After more than four months in the hospital, Kenna is now up to 3 pounds, 3 ounces. She has been moved from an incubator to a crib, and doctors are starting to talk about the day when her parents will be able to take her home. "Science says that a lot of this isn't possible," Moore says.
6. The baby who defied death... three times
Little Charlie Collins, his mother facing dangerous pregnancy complications, was born by emergency C-section nine weeks premature. He had to be resuscitated at birth. "When he was born, he was completely blue, and had to be whisked away and put on a ventilator," says his mother, Lucy, a 29-year-old wedding planner in England. Over the next 24 hours, doctors told Charlie's parents three times that he would not survive. Charlie suffered a heart attack when he was 3 weeks old, but he held on. "He kept fighting," his mother tells Britain's The Sun, "and is now a very happy little boy, who's no different from any other 6-month-old."