Olivia Norton's mother had a suspicion that something was wrong when she stopped feeling her baby kick. Three days later, when nurses still couldn't spot any movement, doctors performed an emergency C-section and delivered Olivia six weeks early. She was just 5 pounds 3 ounces at birth, with her heartbeat dipping dangerously low—but that wasn't what shocked the medical staff.
Olivia was also completely "ghost white" in appearance, because her body had no blood whatsoever.
It sounds like something from a vampire novel, but this really happened: Olivia had such a low count of hemoglobin, it could not officially be classified as blood. Her condition was so dire, the little girl was given less than two hours to live.
Oliva's mother, Louise Bearman of Essex, England, described her shock when she saw her baby's snow-white skin:
Olivia was my first baby, so I didn't really know what to expect -- but I certainly didn't think she'd be that color. (...) when Olivia came out so white we didn't know what was going on.
A rare condition meant that Olivia's blood had run directly back into her mother’s circulatory system. Her hemoglobin levels were just 3 out of the normal level of 18, meaning the plasma in her veins wasn't even technically blood at all. Since the main function of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, Olivia was in a terribly dangerous situation. In fact, doctors didn't think she'd live out the day.
Thanks to emergency blood transfusions, however, Olivia not only survived the first harrowing hours after her birth, she's alive and well today at 6 months old. Her mother said that the first transfusion had an immediate effect on her baby's appearance—"she slowly turned this amazing pink color"—and after two weeks in the hospital's special care baby unit, Olivia's health was eventually restored.
Hospital specialist Sharon Pilgrim said in her 20 years as a neonatal nurse, she had never heard of such low hemoglobin levels. She said it was a miracle Olivia survived, and also mentioned how critical it was that Olivia's mother had been monitoring her baby's movements:
I want mums to realize how important a baby's movement is in checking they are healthy. You have to trust your maternal instinct.
Man, I cannot even begin to imagine how scary this was for Olivia's family. Thank goodness they had access to medical services for those life-saving transfusions, and what a relief that there were no long-term effects from Olivia's health situation. Judging by the current photos, she's all pink and happy now—but she'll certainly have an interesting story to tell when she's older, won't she? ("Oh, you were born early? Well I was born WITH NO BLOOD.")
Have you ever heard of this condition?
Image via Flickr/pixellou