DENVER (KDVR) — Magnets used during surgery helped doctors in Denver save the life of a premature baby.

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children believes the procedure marks the first successful Esophageal Atresia surgery on a baby weighing only 380 grams. Gabriella and Harper were born at 23 weeks in February of 2021 in Alliance, Nebraska.

“Twenty-three weeks is really the extreme limits of possible viability,” said Dr. Steven Rothenberg, chief of pediatric surgery at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

The premature twins, born 250 miles from Denver, needed the expertise available at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. They were rushed to the hospital shortly after birth.

Parents Kayla Hatch and Victor Jacobo credit the medical workers for saving Harper. Rothenberg and his team worked to repair Harper’s incomplete esophagus.

“The gap was so great, it was hard to get the two ends together,” Rothenberg said.

Doctors waited until Harper was full-term before performing a minimally-invasive surgery, followed by another surgery. Eventually, magnets were used in January 2022, about a month before the twins’ first birthday.

“It worked,” Rothenberg said. “It worked extremely well.”

The magnets, which were eventually removed, brought the incomplete esophagus together.

Hatch and Jacobo couldn’t be happier.

“To see them breathing, kicking … it’s just truly awesome,” Jacobo said. “We just can’t thank everyone enough for being there and helping us through these trying times.”

The successful procedure, on a patient like Harper, was a first.

“I believe Harper is the smallest baby ever to be born, with this pure Esophageal Atresia, to survive,” Rothenberg said.

Beating the odds at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, it’s something for which the family will always be grateful.

“For the rest of my life, I’m going to be thanking them,” Hatch said.