World’s most premature baby born at 21 weeks old with 1% chance of survival defies odds
Doctors said the baby wouldn't pull through but he proved them all wrong.
Sasha Alonzo

A little fighter

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 the tiny newborn and his strong spirit

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.

Shattering records

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.

Knowing her babies were in trouble

“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.

Emotional and physical difficulty for mom

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

A strong fighter

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
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

Sticking by her son

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.

You’d never know what he went through

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 amazed by 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

Celebrating Curtis the fighter

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

You can see Curtis the fighter firsthand in the video below.

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