"The day Richard was discharged from the NICU was such a special day. I remember picking him up out of his crib and just holding him with tears in my eyes," his doctor said.
When baby Richard Scott William Hutchinson was born, he could fit in the palm of his parents' hand and his weight was just about that of a can of soup. His parents, Rick and Beth, initially thought they would welcome Richard into this world on his due date of October 13, 2020. However, their baby boy arrived at the gestational age of 21 weeks 2 days on June 5, 2020. Born 131 days premature, Richard weighed only 11.9 oz (340 g) at the time of his birth and is currently a Guinness World Record holder for being the world's "most premature baby." But what's most remarkable is the way the infant beat the odds and showed his parents he was a fighter.
Initially, doctors feared the worst and told the parents that there were absolutely no chances of Richard surviving. "When Rick and Beth received prenatal counselling on what to expect with a baby born so early, they were given a 0% chance of survival by our neonatology team," said Dr. Stacy Kern, Richard’s neonatologist at Children’s Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis, according to Guinness World Record.
"I knew the first few weeks of Richard’s life would be very difficult, but I felt that if he could make it through that, he would be a survivor," the doctor added.
"The first month they weren’t even sure he was going to make it," said Beth, the baby's mother. "It was really hard. You know in the back of your mind that his odds weren't great." But eventually, the parents started becoming more hopeful when they saw the resilience their son showed. "We made sure we were there to give him support," Rick said. "I think that helped him get through this because he knew he could count on us."
After months of staying at the NICU, Richard showed drastic improvement in his condition and was finally allowed to go home with his parents in December 2020.
"The day Richard was discharged from the NICU was such a special day. I remember picking him up out of his crib and just holding him with tears in my eyes," said Dr. Kern. "I couldn’t believe this was the same little boy that once was so sick, that I feared he may not survive. The same little boy that once fit in the palm of my hand, with skin so translucent that I could see every rib and vessel in his tiny body. I couldn’t help but squeeze him and tell him how proud I was of him."
On June 5, 2021, Richard celebrated his first birthday and proved that he truly is a "miracle baby." One of the gifts he received for his birthday was being officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's most premature baby to survive.
"It doesn’t feel real," Beth said about the record. "We’re still surprised about it. But we’re happy. It’s a way we can share his story to raise awareness about premature births."
Absolutely proud of their little one, Beth added, "He is a very happy baby. Always has a smile on the adorable little face of his. His bright blue eyes and smile get me every time."
Cover image source: Guinness World Record