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Alabama baby was born at 21 weeks and had a 1% chance of survival. Today, he's the world’s most premature infant to survive.

Alabama baby was born at 21 weeks and had a 1% chance of survival. Today, he's the world’s most premature infant to survive.

As a newborn, Curtis—who was born 132 days premature—weighed only 420g and could fit in the palm of his mother's hand.

An Alabama baby boy who was born 19 weeks early and weighing less than a pound has been certified as the world's most premature baby to survive. Curtis Means was born on July 5, 2020, when his mom, Michelle Butler, had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery just 21 weeks into her pregnancy. She gave birth to twins, Curtis and C'Asya, four months ahead of their due date. According to Good Morning America, Curtis survived while being cared for in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Women and Infants Center, but his sister C'Asya passed away one day later due to complications as she was much less developed.



 

Speaking to the network, Bulter said she remembers praying that at least one of her twin newborns survive the premature delivery. "My prayers have been answered," she said. "I gave God my little girl and he let me continue to be the mother to Curtis." As a newborn, Curtis—who was born 132 days premature—weighed only 420g and could fit in the palm of his mother's hand. "The medical staff told me that they don't normally keep babies at that age," Butler told Guinness World Records. "It was very stressful."



 

With doctors and nurses caring for him around the clock, Curtis spent the next nine months in the RNICU. "He showed a lot of response to the things we were doing," said Dr. Brian Sims, professor of pediatrics in the UAB Division of Neonatology, and the attending physician on-call when Butler arrived. "It definitely was a surprise that a baby at his age was as much of a fighter, or as strong as he was." Sims explained that he and his colleagues had to keep a close eye on Curtis's responses to treatments as there is no medical precedent for a baby born so premature.



 

"The numbers say that babies at this age will not survive. Mum's question to me was: 'Can we give my babies a chance?'" he said. "We have never been able to bring a baby that young to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so [Curtis] was literally the first of his kind. We were in uncharted territory." Butler—who also has two older children, ages 14 and 7—made the three-hour commute round trip from her home to the RNICU three or four times a week to see her son during the months he was at the hospital. On days she couldn't visit in person, nurses coordinated video calls so she could see Curtis.



 

"It was ups and downs, good and bad days," she said. "For a couple of weeks he’d do really well and then he’d get sick and go about five steps backward." Despite having less than 1% chance of survival at birth, Curtis beat the odds and was determined fit enough to go home on 6 April 2021; after spending 275 days in the RNICU. Six months later, Butler and Curtis returned to the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Women and Infants Center, where they were surprised by doctors and nurses who presented them with the Guinness World Records certificate naming Curtis as the world's most premature infant to survive.



 

"People talk about awards and things but to see a patient who had virtually no chance of survival on paper be looking at you and smiling is one of the greatest rewards and awards that a doctor can have," said Sims. "Curtis did most of the work, but it was an honor to be able to assist him." The resilient young boy is now 16 months old and weighs nearly 19 pounds. Sims revealed that although Curtis is still on oxygen and remains on a feeding tube, he would wean off of both of those in the future.



 

"He's very active. I'm tired already!" Butler joked when asked about her son's energy levels. "I'm very proud of him because where he came from and where he at now, I can tell the difference. Having this record is a blessing that he has accomplished and I’m thankful that [Guinness World Records] accepted him." 

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