Baby born at 21 weeks survives with less than 1% chance

The process of pregnancy Michelle’s “Chelly” Butler seemed to be developing within the right measures. However, her pregnancy was complicated and they had to transfer her to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). There, in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU), on July 5, 2020, Curtis Means was born, at 21 weeks and 1 day, with less than 1% chance of moving away from death. Thanks to that quick action, we would meet the world’s most premature baby to survive.

According to the official Guinness World Record website, Curtis Means weighed 420g at birth, like a soccer ball. He overcame his treatment to the general surprise of the medical staff, although to achieve it they had to monitor him 24 hours a day for many months.

However, C’Asya Means, Curtis’ twin sister, was not so lucky, and passed away a day after her birth. Respiratory therapists had put him on ventilators for oxygen, despite his bleak prognosis.

Brian Sims, professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at the UAB, was the doctor on duty when Butler arrived, according to the statement posted on the university’s website on November 10 this year. “We generally recommend compassionate care in situations of extremely premature deliveries“, said.

“We have never been able to bring such a small baby to the NICU, so (Curtis) was literally the first of its kind,” continued Sims. “We were in uncharted territory.”

As stated in the UAB hospital statement, for nine months, after his premature labor Speech therapists helped Curtis use his mouth and learn to eat; while the nurses monitored his vital signs to calm him in the hours of sleep.

Colm Travers, an assistant professor in the Division of Neonatology, was also instrumental in Curtis’s recovery. When he was surprised by the tenacity of the premature baby, when he saw him for the first time, he knew that he needed more special care.

The RNICU team immediately activated the Golden Week Program, “a multidisciplinary effort that includes clinical guidance on respiratory support, thermoregulation, nutrition and fluid management, infection prevention and neurological status.”

On April 6, 2021, 275 days after being admitted for preterm labor, Curtis was discharged. “Being able to finally bring Curtis home and surprise my older children with their younger brother is a moment I will always remember.” her mother expressed.

It was six months after he was brought home for the hospital medical staff to meet with Michelle Butler: he was presented with a certificate of the Guinness world record. Now, the brave Curtis better enjoys the company of his brothers and loved ones.