The world’s most premature baby, born at 21 weeks with a zero percent chance of survival, is thriving nicely and has inspired his parents to start a nonprofit organization to support babies born early, Life Site News reported.
The little “miracle” just celebrated his first birthday on June 5 and is already in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most premature baby to survive to date.
His name is Richard Scott William Hutchinson and he was born weighing only 340 grams, so small that he could fit in the palm of one hand.
Despite a tentative birth date of October 13, 2020, Beth, the little guy’s mom, experienced medical complications and went into labor unexpectedly almost 4 months early. After an intense discussion with the doctors, a plan was agreed upon to deliver Richard and then do everything possible to keep him.
Richard’s parents had to go through a very complicated journey, especially since the little boy was born in the middle of the pandemic. They could not stay overnight with him at the hospital in Minneapolis (Minnesota), where he was hospitalized.
So they traveled an hour every day from Wisconsin for the six months of his hospitalization to be with him and encourage him in his recovery.
“We made sure we were there to support him,” his father, Rick, told the Guinness Book of World Records. “I think that helped him get through this because he knew he could count on us.”
Dr. Stacy Kern, Richard’s neonatologist at Children’s Minnesota, also believes the presence of Richard’s parents was vital in helping their baby thrive.
“Rick and Beth fought for Richard day after day and never stopped advocating for their baby through it all. Their strength and ability to stay positive and hopeful even during the most stressful and difficult times was inspiring,” Dr. Kern told the Guinness Book of Records.
Little Richard still needs oxygen at home, but he is slowly weaning off all the medical equipment, and the doctors have faith that soon he will not need oxygen either.
“He’s doing really well. He’s pretty much hitting all of his milestones,” said his mother. “He’s got two teeth now and a lot of personality. He’s a happy, smiley baby, and he loves to laugh.”
“He taught me what it truly means to be resilient and, every time I look at him, I’m reminded how strong and amazing all these little beautiful babies are!” she added.
Rick and Beth plan to start a nonprofit organization to support other premature babies.
Fetal viability is the ability of a baby to survive outside the womb.
Richard’s survival brings up questions about abortion and the point of fetal viability, and even whether viability should be used as a determinant of abortion law.
The U.S. Supreme Court stated in Roe v. Wade (1973) that viability “is generally placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.” This ruling also determined that states may not prohibit abortion before fetal viability.
Nineteen states, including Minnesota, consider fetal viability to be the point at which abortion is prohibited, although they legally mark viability at different points during gestation.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists declared 24 weeks as the point of viability and that treating a premature baby before this point poses a “major medical and ethical challenge.” Only after 25 weeks is there general agreement that medical care should be offered, according to Live Action.
However, a 2016 study found that 1 in 4 babies born at the limit of viability and offered active care survived without serious complications. This finding should be factored into decision making, as active resuscitation of babies born at 22 to 23 weeks gestation is a topic of intense debate.
What is certain is that medical advances have pushed the point of viability earlier and earlier in pregnancy and premature babies are born with immense strength to fight for their lives.