Premature birth is the number one killer of babies, and for the first time in eight years, March of Dimes says more children are being born prematurely.
Walk into the NICU at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City and you’ll find little Eliora Schneider.
She weighs nearly 8 pounds, and her parents say she's a miracle.
“Twenty-one weeks and 6 days. We thought this was it, you know, we were going to lose our sweetie,” said Robin Schneider.
Doctors at Saint Luke’s agreed, saying Ellie’s journey has been amazing.
“I think that her journey has been remarkable,” said Dr. Inny Levezzi. “She's had a relatively good outcome so far and you know, I think that that's something to celebrate for her.”
It sounds cliche, but it’s been a long road for Joel and Robin Schneider.
“She was 14 ounces, which is just a little bigger than a can of Coke,” said Robin Schneider, Ellie's mother.
Ellie only spent two more days in the womb than the most premature baby on record.
The couple already has a son, but as they welcomed their early arrival, they waited four months to hear her cry.
“Just hearing a tiny cry from her... brought tears to our eyes. It had been months and months just waiting to just hear our baby’s voice for the first time,” said Joel Schneider.
Photo of the Schneider family courtesy Joel Schneider
Ellie continues to beat the odds.
“The fact that she's alive and has as few complications as she does is a miracle. There's no other way around it. Whether or not you believe in God -- it's a miracle," Robin Schneider said. "She should not be here... and she needs to know that. That she has a special calling on her life."
The Schneiders have a GoFundMe page for help with medical costs.
Earlier this year, St. Luke’s created a program specifically for babies born 24 weeks or earlier. So far, they’ve had an 86-percent survival rate.