Jan. 21, 2012— -- The California premature infant described as the tiniest "miracle baby" is finally home after doctors said she defied all odds.
Melinda Star Guido was born a tiny preemie of 24 weeks, weighing just 9.5 ounces and described as being smaller than the size of a hand in August.
With skin so thin it could not protect her from infection, Melinda wasn't expected to live more than a few days.
After more than 16 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, she now weighs 4.5 pounds.
On Friday, Melinda was released from the hospital to go home with her proud parents.
"I feel great to take her home after four and a half months," said mother Haydee Ibarra. "I'm just grateful to finally spend the whole night with her. It's great. There are no words to say."
Melinda was treated soon after she was born for an eye disorder common to preemies, and had surgery to close an artery.
Now, the third smallest baby to ever survive, her doctors are calling her recovery and development a miracle.
"The good news is the baby is doing what the baby is supposed to do: feed, look around, sleep, and gain weight," said Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan, chief of neonatology at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
Around 7,500 babies are born in the U. S. each year weighing less than a pound. Of those, only about 10 percent survive.
"I just feel blessed. I just feel great that she's here with us," Ibarra said.
To her parents, Melinda may feel like a five month old baby, but to her doctors, she is only a month old.
Doctors say the next six years of her life are crucial, but now, all of those precious years can be spent at home with her loving family.