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Boy born at 21 weeks named world’s most premature infant to survive

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(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — A boy who weighed just 15 ounces at birth has been named by Guinness World Records as the world’s most premature infant to survive.

Curtis Means, of Alabama, was born on July 5, 2020, when his mom, Michelle Butler, went into labor just 21 weeks into her pregnancy and gave birth to twins in an emergency C-section.

Curtis’s sister, C’Asya, died one day after birth, but Curtis survived while being cared for in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Women and Infants Center.

Bulter said she remembers praying that one of her twin newborns would survive the premature delivery.

“My prayers have been answered,” Butler told Good Morning America. “I gave God my little girl and he let me continue to be the mother to Curtis.”

Curtis, who was born 132 days premature, was so delicate at birth that Butler said she had to wait four weeks after giving birth to hold her son. At the time, he could fit in palm of her hand.

Curtis would go on to spend the next nine months in the RNICU, where doctors and nurses cared for him around the clock.

Butler, also the mother of two older children, ages 14 and 7, commuted from her house to the RNICU three or four times a week, a three-hour commute round trip, to see her son. On days she could not visit in person, Butler said the nurses would coordinate video calls so she could see Curtis.

“It was ups and downs, good and bad days,” she said. “For a couple of weeks he’d do really well and then he’d get sick and go about five steps backwards.”

Though he had a less than 1% chance of survival at birth, according to doctors, Curtis graduated from the RNICU after 275 days.

Butler took him home on April 6, 2021, where he met his siblings for the first time. They had not been able to visit Curtis in the RNICU due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I surprised my kids,” said Butler. “They didn’t know we were coming home and they were so excited.”

Six months after that surprise, Butler and Curtis returned to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Women and Infants Center, where they were surprised by doctors and nurses who presented them with the Guinness World Records certificate naming Curtis as the world’s most premature infant to survive.

Curtis, now 16 months old, now weighs nearly 19 pounds.

He is still on oxygen and is still on some medications, but is continuing to thrive at home, according to Butler.

“He’s a happy baby,” said Butler. “He’ll laugh and smile at you.”

Looking back on Curtis’ long journey since birth, Butler said she would encourage other parents of premature babies to be their child’s “biggest advocates.”

“Us parents are the biggest advocates for our children, so whatever you feel in your heart you go by it,” she said. “And continue to pray.”

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