Luna: the 'miracle baby' who was born in Santander

  • At the Hospital Internacional de Colombia, a mother gave birth at only 25 weeks gestation. A pregnancy is considered full-term at 39 weeks.
  • Luna's mother was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a complicated condition during pregnancy. The baby entered the world weighing 520 grams, whereas a typical newborn weighs between 2,500 and 4,000 grams.
  • The Hospital Internacional de Colombia is renowned for managing complex and high-risk pregnancies. This case is one of the most challenging in the institution's history.

Bucaramanga, July 2023. Luna was born in an unexpected place and time. At only six months pregnant, Nubelys Ávila Guerrero had to travel from Aruba to Colombia to give birth to her first daughter. The reason? In her city of residence, they could not attend a premature birth.

The air ambulance in which she and her husband traveled landed in Bucaramanga on July 31, 2022. From the airport, she was transferred to the Cardiovascular Institute of the Hospital Internacional de Colombia. 'We usually have a viability limit of 26 weeks, but we took on Luna's case (25 weeks) as a challenge. They came from abroad seeking help, and the least we could do was offer it ethically, professionally, and responsibly." states Jorge Luis Alvarado Socarrás, Coordinator of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Nubelys had been diagnosed with preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure that affects various organs. This disorder can lead to severe, even fatal, complications for both the mother and the baby. 'I started experiencing severe pain in the pit of my stomach that even prevented me from sleeping. When I went to the hospital in Aruba, they admitted me, explained the situation, and recommended advancing the delivery,' she recalls.

On August 1, 2022, three months earlier than anticipated, Nubelys became a mother. At 4:13 p.m., Luna Daniela Winterdal was born, weighing merely 520 grams—almost eight times lighter than the average newborn. At that time, even a gold medalist from a previous Olympic Games (556 grams) weighed more than she did. 'I was in shock when I saw her; I thought, 'Oh my God, did this come from me?' She was so tiny; I had never seen such a small baby,' she recalls.

Although I could see her, I couldn't hold her. Luna was on mechanical ventilation in an incubator, which provides a womb-like environment for ongoing development. 'Generally, when a child is born at 25 weeks, they face multiple complications, mainly respiratory, they can't breathe on their own, and therefore, everything done in the first few days will have significant repercussions in the short and long term,' explains Alvarado.


Ninety days after delivery, Nubelys held her daughter in her arms for the first time. 'What did I feel? Everything. I got chills and cried. She was crying too, but when I put her on my chest, she became calm, it was a unique sensation. At that moment, they confirmed that Luna is a 'photocopy' of her father. She has the same eyes and eyebrows, but her character is that of her mother. They said.

A personality that kept her strong and positive during the days she was away from home. She fought tirelessly for her daughter and they was assisted by a dedicated group of doctors, nurses, and related personnel who gave their utmost. Together we helped her baby progress, and now we hope for the best possible neurodevelopment," concludes Alvarado.

Learn about Preeclampsia 

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that can arise after the 20th week of gestation. This condition interferes with the placenta's ability to receive the necessary oxygen and blood for its main function: supplying the fetus with essential nutrients. 

Preeclampsia is one of the hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, which also encompasses eclampsia, gestational hypertension, and chronic hypertension. These conditions collectively affect approximately 10% of pregnant women worldwide. 

In addition to being a threat to fetal life, these conditions also compromise the health of mothers. In Latin America, a quarter of maternal deaths are caused by these complications, according to data from the World Health Organization. 

Women afflicted with preeclampsia may experience symptoms like swelling, headaches, and vision changes. However, the most effective method of early detection is through consistent attendance at prenatal checkups.

One of the treatments for these cases is premature delivery, which comes with inherent risks. Babies born before 39 weeks may experience developmental delays such as respiratory, auditory, and visual complications. 'In these situations, it is impossible to predict with certainty what will occur. We have to progress day by day, month by month, and adjust the prognosis accordingly. We have to account for all stages of development, as each one presents distinct challenges in terms of motor skills and learning,' explains Alvarado Socarrás, Coordinator of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.