An Alabama baby boy was named the world’s most premature baby to survive by Guinness World Records.
Curtis Means was born at 21 weeks and one day and weighed only 14.8 ounces. Today he is a happy, healthy, and thriving 16-month-old.
Baby Curtis and his twin sister, C’Asya, were born on July 4, 2020, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital. They were born 132 days premature and were given a less than 1% chance of survival.
The physician on call that day, Dr. Brian Sims, said that because children born so young have virtually no chance of survival that doctors generally advise compassionate care rather than lifesaving care to allow parents the opportunity to hold their babies before they pass.
But their mother, Michelle Butler, asked Dr. Sims to give her babies a chance, and he did.
The twins were immediately admitted to the hospital’s level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Level 4 NICUs are equipped to provide the highest level of care to premature infants.
The day after their birth, Curtis’s less developed twin sister sadly passed away. Curtis, however, continued to respond well to the medical treatments and his heart rate and oxygen levels steadily improved.
Baby Curtis defied all odds. Critical indicators of survival for premature babies are based on gestational age, birth weight, a singleton, a female, and steroids administered to mother before birth to help with infant lung development. Baby Curtis did not have any of these advantages.
His doctors said that they took it one day at a time. They had never known of a baby to survive at such a young age.
Nurses provided around-the-clock support to Baby Curtis. He also received help from speech therapists to learn how to use his mouth to eat and respiratory assistance to learn how to breathe on his own. He was on a ventilator for three months.
After 275 days of fighting for his life, Curtis graduated from the NICU and was sent home with his family.
Dr. Sims told Guinness World Records that in his almost 20 years of working in this field, he has never seen such a young baby as strong as Curtis.
Another NICU doctor at the hospital, Dr. Colm Travers, reported to Guinness World Records, “When he was going home, the feeling we had was of being privileged to have been able to take care of him and his mom. It’s such a privilege taking care of these tiny people.”
Baby Curtis celebrated his first birthday this past July, at which point he qualified as the most premature baby to survive. The previous record-holder was born at 21 weeks and two days. Before that, the record had not been broken for 34 years, and that baby was born at 21 weeks and five days.
Dr. Travers noted, “We do not know what all the future will hold for Curtis since there is no one else like him. He started writing his own story the day he was born. That story will be read and studied by many and, hopefully, will help improve care of premature infants around the world.”
Indeed! Thank God for Baby Curtis and thank God for the medical advancement and technology that saved him and the other 380,000 premature babies born in the United States each year.
May Baby Curtis’s story inspire us all to continue to fight for life for all babies, no matter their age or size.
Photo from Shutterstock.