Olivia had a severe case of newborn anaemia. The haemoglobin count in her red blood cells was too low to be classed as bloodBaby had two emergency transfusions to turn her from ghostly white to ‘amazing pink’

A six-month-old girl has been hailed a ‘miracle’ by doctors after she was effectively born with no blood.

Olivia Norton was born with a severe case of anaemia. She had such a low count of haemoglobin – the chemical which carries oxygen in red blood cells – that it could not officially be classed as ‘blood’.

The ghostly pale youngster was given less than two hours to live but survived after having a series of emergency transfusions.

Olivia had haemoglobin levels of three instead of the average 18

Full of life: Olivia Norton was described by doctors as ‘white and floppy’ when she was born

Her mother Louise Bearman, 31, a barrister’s clerk, today told of her shock at giving birth to a ‘ghost white’ baby. The condition is so rare Olivia will now feature in medical text books.

Ms Bearman said: ‘Olivia was my first baby, so I didn’t really know what to expect – but I certainly didn’t think she’d be that colour.

‘I’ll never forget what the doctors notes said – “white and floppy”. There were some complications before the birth, which was incredibly scary.

‘Then when Olivia came out so white we didn’t know what was going on. It was such a relief when the doctors explained what was happening, and it was quite amazing when they put the blood in her and she slowly turned this amazing pink colour.

‘She’s such a lovely baby, it means everything having her at home now.’

‘She slowly turned this amazing pink colour’: Louise Bearman with her precious daughter

Louise and her greengrocer partner Paul Norton, 36, of Witham, Essex, first noticed something was wrong when they didn’t feel Olivia kicking for three days.

They went to Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, and when nurses failed to spot any movement after a 15 minute scan doctors ordered an emergency caesarean.

Olivia was born six weeks early at 8.20pm on Saturday September 10, weighing 5lbs 3oz with her heartbeat dipping dangerously low.

Haemoglobin is the protein which gives blood its characteristic red colour and ability to carry oxygen around the body. A person’s level is expressed as the amount of haemoglobin in grams (gm) per decilitre (dl) of whole blood.

When Olivia was born she had haemoglobin levels of just 3dm/gl compared to the average for a baby of 18gm/dl. It meant the plasma in her blood could not be classified as proper blood.

Anaemia is extremely uncommon in newborns but can result from a haemorrhage from the placenta or a blood group incompatibility between mother and baby.

The newborn was rushed to the hospital’s special care baby unit where she was monitored for two weeks and had her strength and colour restored with two blood transfusions.


Intensive care: Olivia was treated with blue light phototherapy for neonatal jaundice. Jaundice is caused when the liver is not mature enough to adequately break down the red blood cells

Neonatal nurse Sharon Pilgrim, said in 20 years in the job she had never heard of such low haemoglobin levels.

She said: ‘It was a miracle she survived. She was incredibly pale when born and had difficulties breathing.

‘There was no sign of blood loss prior to the caesarean or during the operation.

‘It was only when we carried out further tests on Louise that we discovered the baby had lost blood directly into her mum’s blood circulation.’

Mrs Bearman added: ‘The hospital staff were amazing and called Olivia the “miracle baby” and said if I hadn’t come in she would not have survived.

‘Doctors still don’t know why it happened, it is one of those freak things.

‘I want mums to realise how important a baby’s movement is in checking they are healthy. You have to trust your maternal instinct.’