When Richard Scott William Hutchinson was born on June 5, 2020, doctors gave him a 0% chance at survival. Born at 21 weeks 2 days gestation, he is the world’s youngest premature baby to ever survive. And earlier this month, he celebrated his milestone first birthday and is now a Guinness Book of World Record holder.
Born a staggering 131 days premature, Richard beat the odds for a child of his age. Weighing just 11.9 oz, he could fit in the palm of his parents’ hands and spent the first seven months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“He is a very happy baby,” his mother Beth said in a press release. “Always has a smile on the adorable little face of his. His bright blue eyes and smile gets me every time.”
Richard’s birth came at a particularly challenging time, as the world was engulfed in a global pandemic, and it was difficult for parents Beth and Rick Hutchinson to visit the baby boy during his long hospital stay. The couple would also have to trek an hour from their home in St. Croix, Wisconsin to Richard’s hospital room in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I credit his miraculous survival to his wonderful parents who were there for him every step of the way and to the entire neonatology team at Children’s Minnesota,” Dr. Stacy Kern, Richard’s neonatologist, said in the release. “It takes a village to care for and support these babies until the time they are ready to go home.”
Though Richard is finally enjoying time at home with his parents, after being released from the hospital in December last year, he still faces an uphill battle.
The little boy remains on “oxygen, a pulse oximeter machine and a pump for his feeding tube.”
“We are working on getting him off all of them, but it takes time,” Beth said in the release. “He has come a long way and is doing amazing.”
Dr. Kern has also said, “The day Richard was discharged from the NICU was such a special day. I remember picking him up out of his crib and just holding him with tears in my eyes.”
“I couldn’t believe this was the same little boy that once was so sick, that I feared he may not survive. The same little boy that once fit in the palm of my hand, with skin so translucent that I could see every rib and vessel in his tiny body. I couldn’t help but squeeze him and tell him how proud I was of him.”
“It doesn’t feel real,” Beth said about Richard becoming a member of the Guinness Book of World Records. “We’re still surprised about it. But we’re happy. It’s a way we can share his story to raise awareness about premature births.”
Richard’s story is not only one of incredible survival, but an example of the growing advances in science and medicine when it comes to premature babies and why the viability issue must be reexamined in regard to abortion.
Currently, the court has defined viability at about 24 weeks. But if children are surviving at about 21 weeks’ gestation, it’s clear the court is out of step with science. And who’s to say that a child born at 20 weeks, 18 weeks or 15 weeks can’t survive if given proper medical intervention.
That’s why Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban case, which is currently at the Supreme Court, is so critical. Science is advancing and we should be able to ensure that more babies like Richard are given every chance to survive.
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