UAB Hospital delivers record-breaking premature baby

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Curtis Means was born at 21 weeks and on day at UAB Hospital. (Photo: UAB Hospital)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WKRG) — A baby born in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has been officially named the world’s most premature infant to survive by Guinness World Records. 

Michelle Butler went into labor at only 21 weeks and one day gestation. She was admitted to UAB Hospital where she gave birth to premature twins, Curtis and C’Asya, on July 5, 2020.

Photo: UAB Hospital

“Numbers show that babies born so young have little to no chances of survival,” said Dr. Brian Sims, the attending physician on-call when Butler arrived. “We typically advise for compassionate care in situations of such extremely preterm births. This allows the parents to hold their babies and cherish what little time they may have together.”

With less than one-percent chance of survival, respiratory therapists quickly hooked the newborns up to ventilators and oxygen, hoping to increase the babies’ chances of survival. C’Asya soon showed signs she was too premature. She died a day later.

Curtis, however, showed signs of improvement. His heart rate and oxygen levels increased with resuscitation and additional oxygen. He was fighting for life.

After surviving the first day, Curtis needed to make it through the first week. The medical team immediately activated the UAB Golden Week Program, an effort that combines evidence-based medicine and best practices to provide respiratory support, thermoregulation, nutrition and fluid management, infection prevention and neurological monitoring, according to the hospital.

Curtis continued defying odds. He survived the first week. Then the first month. Curtis spent 275 days in the UAB RNICU before he was discharged on April 6, 2021.

“There were days when we were unsure that he would survive,” said Sumita Gray, a nurse on Curtis’ team. “He was the youngest baby anyone had worked with, but we are a level 4 RNICU and knew we had the resources and expertise to support Curtis and his mom. We were determined to see him go home.”

Six months after he was discharged from the hospital, Curtis and his mother were presented a certificate that reads: Guinness World Records – The most premature baby to survive is Curtis Zy-Keith Means (U.S.A.) who was born to Michelle Butler on 5 July 2020 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital in Alabama, U.S.A. at a gestational age of 21 weeks 1 day or 148 days, making him 132 days premature. 

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