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‘This little girl was a fighter’: NICU baby, nurse reunite in Myrtle Beach after nearly 30 years

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 11:33 AM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Nearly 30 years ago, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit in a Colorado hospital helped deliver a baby who was born at 32 weeks, weighing less than two pounds.

That baby defied all the odds with the support of her nurse who knew the little girl was going to survive.

“This little girl was a fighter from day one,” said former NICU nurse Joann Lytton. “I mean they’d say, ‘No,’ and she’d say, ‘Yes.’ I had no doubt that she was going to make it.”

Now at 29 years old, Hannah Stovall-Wray lives in Alaska, while Lytton lives on the opposite side of the country in Horry County.

Stovall-Wray recently made the trip to the Grand Strand to reunite with the nurse who saved her life nearly three decades ago.

“It’s been very good to reconnect,” Stovall-Wray said. “It was very good to see her again. To see the whole family. And just to thank her again, because she saved my life. And God of course.”

Stovall-Wray was incredibly small at birth.

Born just 32 weeks into her mother’s pregnancy, Stovall-Wray weighed 1 lb, 11 oz at birth.

“Her dad was a fairly large man and wore a ring size probably 12 to 14, and he was trying to figure out how he could show mom how small she was because she wasn’t able to come into the NICU yet,” Lytton said. “So I said, ‘Give me your wedding ring.’ So he gave it to me, and I took it, and it slid all the way up her arm to her shoulder, and I took it off and put it on over her foot and slid it all the way up to her thigh.”

With the odds stacked against her, Stovall-Wray has managed to live to age 29. She’s even a college graduate.

She has to be on oxygen, and her vision isn’t great, but nothing glasses can’t fix. Other than that, she lives a relatively normal life.

“I’m just like everybody else,” Stovall-Wray said. “I wear oxygen. I have limited abilities, but I’m going to be 30 years old. And my life may be a miracle to some people, but to me, it’s just an opportunity to shed light and know that it’s okay to be different, and you can do anything you want to do.”

Stovall-Wray’s ordeal even inspired her mother to become a nurse.

Stovall-Wray said she owes everything to the great work Lytton did in that Colorado hospital all those years ago.

As for the future of Stovall-Wray’s and Lytton’s relationship, Lytton said she hopes to one day be able to visit Stovall-Wray in Alaska.

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