'Ghost White' Baby Manages to Survive Being Born Without Blood

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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

baby health, childbirth


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Stacey. Stacey.

Thank God for c-sections and hospital births!

Pamela Bergson

And thank god for blood donors! Go donate blood, if you're able, so more Olivias can get what they need to survive.

Bugsm... Bugsmom0307

What an amazing story! God blessed that family!

nonmember avatar Brooke

Amazing story! Thank god for blood donors!

Ang1982 Ang1982

What a lucky family! And an amazing story to tell.

nonmember avatar Kristen

The EXACT same thing happened to me and my son's birth in 2010. He was always super active at night, but one might we just didn't feel him at all. We went into the hospital where they monitored me. His heart rate was drastically dropping, so they decided to do an emergency c-section at only 34 weeks. His heart rate was 30 bpm at birth and he was ghost white. He was born with only 1/8 his blood supply! They quickly gave him multiple blood transfusions within a few minutes. After blood test on me, they determined that all of his blood was in my blood system. I am so thankful for the fast action from the doctors and nurses. We now have a very happy and healthy 20 month old! Thanks for sharing this story! And thank you to all blood donors! :)

Sidthe Sidthe

Wow little girls has an amazing story! I donate blood as regularly as I can it helps tons of people!

Also am I the only one who read the title and thought it was something out of House or one of the other Medical shows?

sweet... sweetmom1007

God Bless them and I never heard of this before! Wow!

Bonnie Bruns Williams

This happened to a friend of mine.  He had transfusions 5 minutes after birth and a 3 day "cold cap" procedure to prevent brain damage.  He is a happy and healthy toddler now.  Glad to hear this little one is doing well too!


foxfr... foxfroggy

I hate stories like this with glaring medical inaccuracies. The statement that her blood wasn't really blood is simply wrong.Yes, the hemoglobin was critically low and life threatening but it is far from unheard of albeit rare in a newborn. I personally cared for an infant with leukemia whose hemoglobin reached as low as 2.6 and she survived. The infant in this case needed and got the appropriate therapy: rapid transfusion.

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