‘Miracle baby’ celebrates 18th birthday

Elizabeth Puffer weighed just 1 pound, 8 ounces when she was born. Michael Puffer holds his daughter’s tiny hand with just one finger.

Celebrating your child’s 18th birthday can be a bittersweet event for any parent. They’ve watched them grow from that 7-pound, 8-ounce bundle of joy to something resembling an adult. But for area residents Michael and Liza Puffer, they’ve watched their daughter, Elizabeth, — who celebrated her 18th birthday last Friday — grow into a healthy, active, young woman from just 1.5 pounds the day she was born.

It was Sept. 7, 1994 and the couple was in the process of moving from Colorado to Foster City, Calif.

“His job put us up in a hotel,” Liza Puffer recalled.

Surrounded by their pets and most of their belongings in a small California hotel room, Liza started feeling ill. She had just found out she was pregnant and she hadn’t even met her OB yet. They didn’t even have time to notify many of their family members of their expected addition. Thinking it may have been a simple case of indigestion, Liza went to the bathroom. A mere minutes later, her and Michael’s lives would be forever changed.

“About 1 o’clock in the morning I hear her scream, ‘Michael get in here!’” said Michael Puffer. “And I go in there and she’s holding a baby — beautiful Elizabeth.”

At just five months along in the pregnancy, baby Elizabeth decided it was time to enter the world. Liza described the labor as instantaneous — it lasted a matter of seconds.

“It was really a sequence of incredible events,” Michael Puffer explained. “I called 9-11 and we were lucky enough that the paramedics were three blocks away.”

The hospital they were taken to wasn’t even an entire mile away. When the emergency medical personnel arrived, Michael said they weren’t optimistic about Elizabeth’s survival.

“One of them was talking to another and he said, ‘better hurry up, it doesn’t look…’ but he didn’t finish because I was standing right there,” he said.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Sept. 13 print edition of the Times.