Ava McKayla Reaves (Credit: GoFundMe)

Baby born at 24 weeks released from hospital in time for 1st birthday

After nearly a year in hospitals, an Acworth baby will celebrate her first birthday at home.

Alicia Reaves first posted the news in a fundraising campaign, in which she shared her daughter’s story.

“It is truly a God-send that she has survived,” Reaves wrote.

Ava McKayla was born Aug. 30, 2016, after about 24 weeks gestation, when her mother’s placenta tore from the lining of her uterus, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

The infant weighed less than 2 pounds and doctors told Reaves to expect to say goodbye. There was only a 3 percent chance of survival, Reaves said. 

While caring for two daughters at home and helping her youngest daughter fight for her life, Reaves was separated from Ava’s dad. 

“After I left the hospital, I had to get caught up with everything and try to heal,” Reaves said.

She had to be there for her 9 and 5-year-old daughters’ first week of school.

By the time the holidays came around, Ava had be moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital of Atlanta at Egleston from Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

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After four major surgeries — the most recent of which left Ava comatose and on life support — Ava became the longest-surviving NICU resident in the hospital’s history, Reaves said.

But still, Reaves was constantly reminded of Ava’s frailty.

About 10 p.m. one night, after daughters Alison and Kylie were tucked into bed, Reaves got a call from a doctor saying Ava probably wouldn’t make it through the night.

Alicia Reaves and daughter Ava. (Family photo)

The mother couldn’t just wake her girls and go, she said.

Without knowing where her youngest stood, Reaves said she couldn’t find a foothold for herself. 

Her job as a dispatcher with A-Total Plumbing didn’t last when she couldn’t get to work on time, feeling like she constantly had to be everywhere at the same time.

“The harder life became outside of work, the harder (my boss) became on me,” Reaves said. 

Her hours were reduced and, after she clocked in a few minutes late in April, they let her go.

Now, the family feels blessed to have Ava at home and they are all planning something big for her first birthday on August 30.

“I want to do it in a big way because, when the hospital calls and tells you your baby isn’t going to make it through the night, it’s a huge milestone to make it to 1,” she said.

But there are still medical bills to pay and hospital staff encouraged Reaves to find a way to be a stay-at-home mom.

Ava won’t be a good candidate for day care with her pulmonary hypertension issues, they told her.

And though Ava’s dad, Michael Frazee, helps as much as he can, Reaves is still a single mom. 

Reaves said she’s hopeful that the blessing won’t end and that people will help her continue to care for her miracle baby.

“She is the epitome of a miracle and it makes you believe in things you have long since forgotten about,” Reaves said.

To donate to Baby Ava’s NICU expenses fundraiser, click here

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