The baby girl weighed less than a pound when she was born just 21 weeks into Courtney Stensrud’s pregnancy. Infants that tiny and undeveloped aren’t expected to survive outside the womb, but her mother insisted that she be resuscitated. Lyla — who is now 4 — appears to have made medical history. Her doctors believe the Texas girl is the most premature surviving baby ever reported. Her case means they can no longer say death is certain for babies delivered at 21 weeks’ gestation, “though it remains highly probable,” wrote Dr. Kaashif Ahmad, a MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, last year in the journal Pediatrics. When TODAY caught up with her on Thanksgiving Eve 2018, she had a lot to be thankful for. Lyla is a little behind on speech, but she’s otherwise “doing really well” and doesn’t have any medical issues or disabilities, her mom said. Doctors can’t predict Lyla’s future, but they have every reason to be hopeful for her continued long-term good health, Ahmad noted. “Lyla is a beautiful… wonderful little girl,” he said. “Lyla not only fought and survived to make it home, but is thriving today. Knowing her over the past four years has been an extraordinary journey.”

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Photo courtesy Courtney Stensrud

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