Born at only six months, little Levi had a very slim chance of survival.
Out of his mother's womb too early, Levi suffered from multiple complications: his tummy was bloated due to a perforation in his underdeveloped intestines, and he only weighed 925 grams.
"We were excited to meet this li'l one. But apparently, no one was more excited than he was. And what a big surprise he pulled," said first-time mom Landa Bautista-Abundo, who had struggles of her own when she gave birth to Levi.
But with God's grace, medical intervention, and determination of Levi's parents and family, the little fighter is now inspiring people online with his amazing will to live.
From an emaciated baby, Levi now has cheeks to show off, spreading good vibes to his page's followers on Facebook.
LITTLE LEVI LION HEART:
LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY
Levi had to undergo ileostomy, and for a few months, a part of his intestines was exposed as doctors continue to observe his development.
After almost five months in the hospital, Abundo considers it the best gift to be able to bring Levi home, in time for her 40th birthday.
MIRACLE AFTER MIRACLE
What made Levi's birth miraculous is the fact that Landa has a bicornuate or a "heart-shaped" uterus.
"During my emergency C-section [caesarean section], nakita nung perinatologist ko that apparently I had a bicornuate uterus or what is called a heart-shaped uterus," she told ABS-CBN News.
"So yung heart-shaped na uterus, what happened pala is that it does not expand. So the tendency really is that nagiging either result in miscarriage 'yung pregnancy or hindi talaga nagsa-succeed yung pregnancy. So si Levi is really a miracle baby kasi despite that condition, nag-insist siyang lumabas. So siguro parang nasikipan na siya sa loob kasi nga hindi nag-e-expand 'yung uterus which resulted in the pre-term labor and delivery," Landa added.
Aside from worrying about their premature son, Landa also had to endure several procedures herself, as she suffered from bleeding for several days after giving birth.
"I suffered blood loss – major blood loss. So after nun C-section ko, while I was in recovery in the recovery room, I was losing blood. They had to transfuse me with blood. I was rushed back to the delivery room for a post-partum D & C [Dilation and Curettage]," she recalled.
The bleeding apparently was caused by Levi's "vanishing twin."
"The reason why I had the hemorrhage is that kahit na na-D & C ako, during the first D & C after the C-section, may naiwan pa rin pala. Yung twin, basta may placental remains, nag-adhere sa uterine wall. So hindi talaga, what do you call this, parang hindi nalinis," she said.
While the worst might be over, the Abundo couple still has more challenges to face, including their hefty hospital bills.
Staying in the hospital for a total of 148 days amounted to P3.5 million in hospital and professional fees.
According to Landa, she and her husband knew they had to look for ways to raise funds the moment Levi was born prematurely.
"That’s why we put up a Facebook page, talagang from the onset, we launch a lot of fund raising activities kasi nga we knew the extent of what we needed. Ngayon, we’re happy kasi at least nakauwi si Levi, napayagan ng hospital pero ang laki pa rin ng balance namin kasi the fund raising itself, we were only able to raise P1.7 million, sobrang laki pa ng balance," she said.
Landa put up a Facebook page for Levi in early February, where she asked for help from friends and other concerned individuals.
It is also where she posts updates about Levi and his condition to inspire others who may have the same experience.
According to Landa, they did not expect the outpouring of support and donations.
They are also thankful for the financial support given to them by various government agencies, as well as discounts given by the hospital.
'WALANG PANAHON PARA MANGHINA ANG LOOB'
According to Landa and Luis, they draw strength from Levi himself.
"Paano kang hindi lalaban kung nakikita mo 'yung anak mo kung gaano siya, 'yung talagang, every trial, every trouble, he's able to surpass it. So sino ka para sumuko? Sino ka para hindi mag-persist kung siya nakikita mong nag-iimprove," Landa said.
"Saka faith din talaga is very important...Sabi nga, hindi ibibigay sa'yo kung hindi mo kaya eh," she added.
"Walang panahon para manghina ang loob. You face the reality na 'yung anak mo lumalaban so lalaban ka rin, doon ka huhugot ng lakas," Luis said.
Now that they were able to bring Levi home, the Abundo couple is focused on looking for more funding to ensure that he grows up and recovers.
For Landa, their experience made her realize that sometimes, all one has to do is ask for help.
"Kasi with us, we feel na God has worked miracles to the people we’ve met, also because of sheer will power. Kasi you can’t get help if you don’t ask. And you can’t get solutions, answer, if you don’t ask it, if you don’t do the necessary. If hindi mo susubukan, paano mo malalaman?" she said.
The Abundo family still has a long way to go, and they still need all the help they can get.
Interested individuals can check out Levi's Facebook page and Instagram account for more details.
- with Kimberly Kathreen Khaye Dave