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A surgery using magnets helped doctors in Colorado save the life of a very premature baby.

Gabriella and Harper were born at 23 weeks in February of 2021 in Alliance, Nebraska. The twins needed the help of specialized doctors to survive, so they were transferred to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, 250 miles away.

“Twenty-three weeks is really the extreme limits of possible viability,” said Dr. Steven Rothenberg, chief of pediatric surgery at the hospital.

Parents Kayla Hatch and Victor Jacobo credit the medical workers for saving Harper, who was born with an incomplete esophagus.

Rocky Mountain Hospital believes the procedure marks the first successful Esophageal Atresia surgery on a baby weighing less than a pound.

“The gap was so great, it was hard to get the two ends together,” Rothenberg said. “I believe Harper is the smallest baby ever to be born, with this pure Esophageal Atresia, to survive.”

Doctors waited until Harper was full-term before performing a minimally-invasive surgery, followed by another surgery. Eventually, magnets were used in January 2022, about a month before the twins’ first birthday. The magnets, which were eventually removed, brought the incomplete esophagus together.

“It worked,” Rothenberg said. “It worked extremely well.”

Hatch and Jacobo couldn’t be happier.

“To see them breathing, kicking … it’s just truly awesome,” Jacobo said. “We just can’t thank everyone enough for being there and helping us through these trying times.”

“For the rest of my life, I’m going to be thanking them,” Hatch said.