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The Two Olivias: Meet the Smallest Surviving Babies Born at INTEGRIS, 19 Years Apart

12/08/2015

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This is the story of two girls named Olivia. One is in her freshman year of college at Oklahoma State University and the other was hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City until just a few weeks ago.

While seemingly worlds apart, the girls have far more in common than the same first name. They were both cared for in the INTEGRIS Baptist NICU and share the remarkable distinction of being the hospital’s smallest surviving baby. It was a title Olivia Chilton held for 19 years, until the day Olivia Koch was born.

Her due date was Oct. 4 but Koch made an early arrival on June 16, 2015, at just 24 weeks gestation. A normal pregnancy can range from 38 to 42 weeks and infants born before 37 weeks are considered premature. Baby Olivia came into the world four months early, weighing only 15 ounces – that’s less than one pound.

“She was so premature and underdeveloped that before she was born, the doctors were very concerned she would not be able to survive,” remembers Chyloe Koch, Olivia’s mother. But on the day she was born, the neonatologist who was in the delivery room recalls it wasn’t Olivia’s tiny size that made the first impression - it was her vigor and stamina. “Olivia was breathing and crying with a steady heart rate and oxygen levels, which was unexpected for a baby that small. She was exceptional from the very beginning,” said Julie Watson, M.D.

She was in for the fight of her life, and that is exactly what Olivia did. She spent more than 100 days in the hospital and underwent countless procedures. She gained over three pounds before she was ready to go home. While it is too soon to tell if she will have any lasting effects of her extreme prematurity, her parents are just thankful she is alive.

“I cried when I found out that she surpassed Olivia Chilton as the smallest surviving baby born at INTEGRIS Baptist,” admits her mom. “Every time I used to walk by Chilton’s photos and story hanging there on the NICU walls, it would give me hope. Hope that my Olivia would someday have a similar success story to tell.”

Olivia Chilton was born May 5, 1996, weighing one pound two ounces. She was born at 25 weeks gestation and spent 97 days in the hospital. The similarities between the two Olivias are uncanny. Both mothers had severe preeclampsia, causing the babies to be born far too early. The Olivias both had a similar heart condition, they both required an eye procedure to keep their retinas from detaching and, miraculously, neither girl suffered from bleeding in the brain - which is a very real risk for extremely premature babies. They even share their light blonde hair color.

“If you look at photos of the two girls, they look identical,” says Debbie McCann, clinical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at INTEGRIS Baptist. “Those of us who were here when Olivia Chilton was born feel like history is repeating itself. And we hope it does, because Chilton has grown up to be a remarkable and incredibly healthy young woman.”

“It’s weird, she really does look just like me when I was that age,” marvels the older Olivia.

Chilton wears hearing aides, but other than that, one would never know what a miracle it is that she is even here. “I always say that God must have amazing plans for my daughter because of everything she has overcome,” says Michelle Chilton, Olivia Chilton’s mother. “And I am certain He has similar plans for Olivia Koch.”

The two Olivias and their mothers recently met each other face to face at the hospital. It was a tearful meeting in a situation only they can truly understand, as Olivia Chilton passed the torch (so to speak) to Olivia Koch.

“I wanted to meet them,” says Chyloe Koch. “They know what we are going through, they have walked in our shoes. I don’t know what the future holds for my daughter, but meeting Olivia Chilton, I now can see what is possible.”

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