Pregnancy
Mom gives birth to the world’s most premature baby at just 21 weeks old with 1% chance of survival
Doctors said the chances of him surviving were very slim but he proved them all wrong.
Rebecca Reid
11.16.21

This little fighter is breaking all the records.

Curtis Means shocked his family and his team of doctors when he survived being born at just 21 weeks and one day. The tiny premie is currently the smallest surviving baby ever born and he has a Guinness World Record to prove it.

Celebrating Curtis and his will to live.

After 275 days in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Curtis was finally sent home. He had made unbelievable progress and fought a tough battle over those 275 days so plans were in the works for a celebration.

World Record Holder

In April of 2021, Curtis was officially given the title of ‘world’s most premature infant to survive’ by Guinness World Records. The hospital staff that helped care for him wanted to honor Curtis’ journey by presenting his mom with the World Record.

“I knew it was too early.” – Michelle Butler, mom to Curtis

It was understandably difficult for Michelle when she went into labor far too early. She had given birth to twins but sadly, Curtis’ twin sister didn’t make it. No one expected Curtis to pull through but he soon proved them wrong.

“I was just prayin to say ‘please keep my kids here with me’. It was hard.” – Michelle Butler

The long road to recovery.

Curtis spent so many days in the NICU that the nurses and doctors knew him and his family well. This team of heroes was ready to do anything possible to save his life. When Curtis beat the odds, even his doctors were amazed. “Survival at such a young gestational age has never happened before so before he was born his chances of survival would have been less than 1%” – Colm Travers, MD Assistant Professor of Neonatology

YouTube screenshot - University of Alabama at Birmingham
Source:
YouTube screenshot - University of Alabama at Birmingham

Uncharted territory.

Brian Sims, MD, Associate Professor of Neonatology was just one of the exceptional doctors responsible for Curtis’ recovery. He knew something was different about this little guy right from the beginning.

“He literally was the first of his kind in a sense we were in uncharted water, uncharted territory. Curtis was different. I know his title said 21 weeks and one day but his physiology acted a little bit more mature, which was to his favor.” – Brian Sims, MD

A devoted mom who never left his side.

Even though Michelle was dealing with the loss of her daughter and her son in the NICU, the strong mom spent every moment she could with Curtis.

“When I knew that he wasn’t having a good day, I just go over there to him, pray and hold my hands over him. The days I was able to hold him, I hold him till about 5-6 hours straight.” – Michelle Butler.

16 months old and ready to take on the world!

Curtis is making strides! You would never know this is the same little boy that was shocking the world with his early arrival. Michelle says that Curtis had a bit of a slow start but is now babbling and trying to walk.

The medical team was in awe of Curtis’ fighting spirit.

“We were all in shock we were all amazed. We were ready to take on this journey. We just knew in our heart that this is the smallest baby we’ve seen and we were going to see him go home.” – Sumita Gray, RN/NICU Nurse

The celebration was an incredible milestone for Curtis and his mom.

“To see everybody…it meant everything to us…it was just overwhelming…a lot of joy.” – Curtis mom

Now watch this inspiring video of Curtis and his fight to survive.

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By Rebecca Reid
hi@sbly.com
Rebecca Reid is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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