21-Week Preemie Who Defied the Odds Celebrated His First Birthday

21-Week Preemie Who Defied the Odds Celebrated His First Birthday

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The world’s earliest preemie baby recently celebrated his first birthday after being given a 0% chance of survival.

Richard Scott William Hutchinson made his grand entrance into the world on June 5, 2020. With a due date of October 13, he’d been born four months earlier than anticipated.

Richard’s mom experienced medical complications and went into labor unexpectedly. Doctors delivered him and did everything in their power to sustain his life. At just 21 weeks two days old, Richard was 131 days premature. To put that in perspective, most babies are born at around 40 weeks old.

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Richard had the odds stacked against him from the start, weighing just 340 g (11.9 oz) at birth. That’s about the weight of a can of soup and measures just one-tenth of an average newborn’s weight. When his parents held their son, he fit into the palm of their hands. Because of his highly premature birth, doctors didn’t feel optimistic about his odds of survival.

They transferred Richard to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis. There, doctors gave his parents the news they’d been dreading. Dr. Stacy Kern, part of Richard’s neonatology team, told them he had no chance of survival during prenatal counseling.

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They wanted to prepare them for the worst, but Dr. Kern felt a glimmer of hope on the horizon. She knew Richard would struggle the first few weeks of his life. But, if he could get through that, she felt he’d survive.

Thankfully, her intuition was correct, and the preemie “miracle baby” celebrated his first birthday on June 5, 2021. A first birthday marks a huge milestone for any child, but it’s even more special for Richard. Guinness World Records officially declared him the most premature baby on record to survive.

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The tiny preemie inspired everyone with his determination to survive against all odds.

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It seems that Richard gets his fighting spirit from his parents, Beth and Rick Hutchinson. Dr. Kern believes they played a massive role in their son’s success story.

“I credit his miraculous survival to his wonderful parents who were there for him every step of the way and to the entire neonatology team at Children’s Minnesota. It takes a village to care for and support these babies until the time they are ready to go home,” Kern told Guinness World Records.

She added that Beth and Rick fought for Richard the whole time and never stopped advocating for him. Their strength and positive attitude throughout a terrifying, difficult time greatly inspired her and the entire neonatal team.

The first few months were the hardest to get through. Doctors weren’t even sure Richard would make it, even though they remained hopeful. To add even more stress to the situation, Richard’s birth happened during a global pandemic. Hospitals had many restrictions in place, limiting visitation hours even for parents.

They couldn’t stay at the hospital overnight with him or share visiting duties with other family members. So, Rick and Beth commuted daily from their home in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, to Minneapolis to see their preemie son.

“We made sure we were there to give him support,” Rick told Guinness World Records. “I think that helped him get through this because he knew he could count on us.”

Despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic, Richard’s parents always found a way to visit him. They asked doctors for updates constantly so they could remain informed about his condition. Over six months, Richard continuously improved, gaining both weight and strength. In early December 2020, doctors finally released him from the hospital after a long road to recovery.

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A miracle unfolded

That day, emotions ran high for both the family and the neonatal team who cared for Richard.

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Dr. Kern said: “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.

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“I couldn’t believe this was the same little boy that once was so sick that I feared he might 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.

“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!”

Richard’s come a long way and enjoys a happy, healthy life at home

 Richard recently celebrated his first birthday surrounded by his parents and relatives. The family also owns three dogs, and Richard loves hanging out with them. Beth says he’s a very happy baby, always sporting a smile on his adorable little face. He’s got bright, blue eyes that shine with life, mesmerizing everyone around him.

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While the preemie has made so much progress, he still requires regular doctor visits and medical equipment at home. Currently, he’s on oxygen, a pulse oximeter machine, and a pump for his feeding tube. The family hopes he can survive without the machines soon, but they’re just happy to have him home. He’s come a long way since his days in the NICU, and his parents couldn’t be prouder.

Beth continues to spread awareness about premature births to help other parents with the experience. Richard fought hard to survive, but he couldn’t have done it without his dedicated team of doctors and nurses. The Hutchinsons have endless gratitude for Richard’s neonatal team.

“They are the most amazing team,” said Beth. “We love the staff that took care of our son and wish we could share him with them all the time. He was called the ‘miracle baby’ when he was there. I agree with them.”

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Final Thoughts: A few words from preemie Richard’s NICU doctor

 Dr. Kern feels so thankful for her role in the preemie’s inspiring success story that’s touched the lives of millions.

“Richard is the youngest baby I have ever had the honor to care for. I feel so blessed and honored that I was the neonatologist on service the week Richard was born. To be a part of his incredible story… I can’t even put into words how amazing that feels.”

“I think Richard’s story has inspired so many people around the world and I think we will all continue to learn from him. Thank you, Richard, Beth, and Rick for all you have taught us. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.”

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Kristen Lawrence is a Staff Writer at Power of Positivity since 2014. Kristen describes herself as an "average coffee-drinking girl who gets to put words together for a living." She enjoys sharing positive news and stories with the Power of Positivity audience. Kristen was also featured on the popular travel website, Only In Your State. When she's not writing or editing, she enjoys hiking in the great outdoors, making smoothies, eating out at yummy vegan restaurants, and relaxing with a nice big cup of coffee. She just wants to share a slice of happiness with as many people as possible. Kristen hopes that her articles bring a little bit of hope, happiness, and inspiration into the lives of her readers. She hopes to help people find their purpose and inspire them never to give up.

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