Ruby Silva – NICU success story

Against all odds

Born at less than 23 weeks, Ruby Silva is the miracle her parents prayed for

For as long as she can remember, Mirna Rubidia Contreras has had the nickname Ruby, and throughout her childhood, she dreamed of passing on the name to her first daughter.

It turns out that baby Ruby Stephanie Silva is more than a dream come true. She’s also what her doctors, nurses, and family call a miracle.

Born at only 22 weeks and 6 days, Ruby spent five months in Methodist Richardson Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and another two at Children’s Medical Center fighting to survive.

Ruby Silva After spending seven months in treatment,
Ruby was finally able to join the rest
of the Silva family at home.

She won.

“God has something planned for her that everybody is going to see,” Mirna says. “She has been a miracle since the beginning.”

God’s promise

Mirna and her husband, David Silva, were already the proud parents of David Jr., but hoped for more children. Unfortunately, two miscarriages followed. When they learned that they were pregnant with Ruby, the couple, along with their family and friends, hit their knees in prayer for the safety of this little one.

Then only 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Mirna started experiencing contractions. Over the next couple of weeks, other complications emerged, culminating in a cesarean delivery on March 22, 2015.

“Immediately, four or five people were doing whatever they could to keep her alive,” David says.

The days, weeks, and months that followed were a waiting game, with the Silvas holding their breath to see how Ruby would do.

A day at a time

“Before delivery, Ruby’s chance of survival was less than 5 percent, almost nonexistent,” says Lilian St. John, MD, neonatologist on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson. “But Ruby has been feisty from the get-go. By the time I got her to the warmer, she actually cried — not a vigorous cry, but it was a cry — and 22-weekers don’t cry. They don’t have the lungs.”

Those cries were a reason to hope. After taking Ruby’s weight — a mere 1 pound, 1 ounce — Dr. St. John determined her chances of survival without long-term problems were now 13 percent.

“She had ups and downs all the time,” David says. “She would recover from one thing, and then suddenly it was another thing.” Skin and lung development, electrolyte abnormalities, pulmonary artery hypertension, and a viral infection were just a few of the challenges that Ruby had to overcome.

“The stats were against her, but she defied the odds,” Dr. St. John says.

Moments of joy and hope

One milestone in Ruby’s journey came shortly before Mother’s Day, when Mirna held her daughter for the first time.

“Every night, I would talk to her,” Mirna says. “I would say, ‘My princess, I want to hold you in my arms. I wish I could be closer to you.’ To finally hold her was amazing.”

Ultimately, Ruby was transferred to Children’s Medical Center for a minimally invasive heart surgery, and on Oct. 2, she went home from the hospital to be with her family.

“She’s doing everything she’s supposed to do by her age and is even talking a bit now, making sounds,” Mirna says. “When the doctors see her, they just can’t believe it. They say, ‘Wow, what a miracle.’”

Looking back on their journey, the Silvas say the same thing. They are grateful that they were able to deliver Ruby at Methodist Richardson and for the support they found in their care team.

“I remember some of the nurses encouraged me to be strong, to wait for a miracle,” Mirna says. “They were right: A miracle was coming true.”

From the spring 2016 edition of Shine magazine.