Preemie Defies Death, Mom Spreads Hope



“He might not make it.”

This is what doctors told 20-year-old Katrina Leon when she gave birth to her baby boy weighing less than a pound.

“I kept being told he wasn’t going to survive…hearing that as a mom is heartbreaking,” Katrina said.

Katrina was admitted to Calgary Foothills Medical Center at 23 weeks with preeclampsia — high blood pressure during pregnancy. She spent a gruelling four weeks in bed waiting until doctors were decided to perform a C-section.

“I was kept in the hospital and wasn’t allowed to leave. The only place I was allowed to go was the washroom,” Leon said. “I started getting really sick. My platelets starting dropping and I almost had a stroke. That’s when they felt he had to come out.”

Zander Bennett was born at 27 weeks. Zander spent 180 days in the hospital, and during that time, he underwent 3 surgeries. Nurses said he was one of the smallest babies they’d ever seen survive.

“I remember walking through the NICU and seeing all these little babies hooked up to beeping machines,” Leon said. “It was really scary and he was just so tiny. He still is tiny.”

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Zander is now 9 months old, and weighs only 10 pounds. Katrina started with miniature diapers about big enough to fit a doll, and now dresses him in Build-A-Bear clothes.

Karina Leon hopes her story will give other mothers strength.

“I’ve wanted to reach out for a long time, but I never really had the courage,” Leon said. “When I first had my son, I didn’t think there was any hope. I want other moms to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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