She's a true miracle baby

September 10, 2021
Topics: About Us, Donors, Riley Kid Story

Hazel Smith full size 2021.09.10
Riley kid Hazel Smith

Hazel Grace Smith is a true miracle baby. Born two months early at IU Health Methodist Hospital on Dec. 17, 2019, Hazel was – and is – nothing short of that, her parents, Calvin and Ashley Smith, believe. After three months at Riley Hospital for Children, she went home for the first time in March 2020.

Ashley Smith experienced what doctors determined was a partial molar pregnancy. While in a total molar pregnancy, the fetus does not develop at all, in a partial molar, the fetus can develop but typically will be abnormal and doesn’t survive. A partial molar pregnancy with a live fetus occurs in the tiniest fraction of cases.

Now nearly 20 months old, Hazel’s vocabulary grows every day, her mom said, counting at least 20 words that she can think of. Hazel mimics most everything she hears and definitely has a mind of her own.

Dr. Theodore Wilson, Riley Medical and Molecular Genetics, has told the Smiths that Hazel is on track cognitively for her age, and Ashley agrees.

“Her brain is technically smaller than everyone else’s, but she is so incredibly intelligent.”

Developmentally, she is a few months behind and participates in multiple therapies three times a week.

Hazel suffers from hemihypertrophy, a genetic disorder characterized by overgrowth of one side of the body compared to the other. In her case, it means her left leg is slightly longer than her right, making it difficult to walk, so she does a version of an army crawl to get around.

As a result, she will begin seeing Riley orthopedics specialists soon, a new specialty to add to her growing list – genetics, gastroenterology, nephrology, endocrinology, ophthalmology and oncology. The latter team is on board to keep a close eye on any developing liver tumors.

There is no one syndrome that fits Hazel, Ashley said, but that goes with the territory for their miracle girl.

“We’ve exhausted every test in the genetics realm, and she still doesn’t have an identifiable syndrome. She is just Hazel Smith syndrome.”

The Smiths know that theirs has been an unusual journey, but they hope that by sharing their story and allowing all of the testing that they endured, doctors can begin to piece together the puzzle of Hazel’s development and birth.

“I want them to have more answers for the next set of parents who come through here,” Ashley said. “We know as much as we need to know.”

And what they know is that their baby has already defied the odds.

With the new Riley Maternity Tower welcoming patients later this year, moms and babies like Ashley and Hazel will have the high-quality maternity care of Indiana University Health alongside the highly skilled pediatric care of Riley, this new facility will offer the best and safest maternity and newborn health service under one roof.  

To learn more about supporting Riley Maternity and Newborn Health programs, please contact Pamela Fairchild Clark at or 317.759.6959.

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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