When Michelle Butler went into labor on July 4, 2020, she had no idea she was about to bring a future world-record-holder into the world.
On July 5, Michelle gave birth to twins Curtis Zy-Keith Means and C’Asya Means at just 21 weeks and one day pregnant. At 132 days early, they were the youngest preemies ever cared for at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They were given just a 1% chance of survival.
Sadly, C’Asya passed away just a day after birth, but Curtis went on to overcome every dire prognosis. He weighed just 420 grams, about the same weight as a soccer ball, so doctors tried to prepare Michelle for the worst.
Dr. Brian Sims, a professor of pediatrics at the UAB, was the on-call physician when the twins were born.
“Numbers show that babies born so young have little to no chances of survival,” he explained. “We have never been able to bring a baby that young to the neonatal intensive care unit, so [Curtis] was literally the first of his kind. We were in uncharted territory.”
Michelle said it was a “very stressful” time. Curtis required round-the-clock medical care to regulate his body temperature, feed him, and help him breathe. He was on a ventilator for three months and spent an astounding 275 days in the hospital.
Age and weight are important predictors of whether an infant will survive, and female infants and singletons usually have better odds. Curtis had none of those things going for him, but he still made it! Once he was released and sent home, doctors agreed that he had “defied all scientific odds.” Sounds like a miracle to us!
Once Curtis turned 1, Guinness World Records deemed him the “World’s Most Premature Baby To Survive.” The previous record holder was born just a month before Curtis, and Curtis wound up beating him for the record by just one day. Before these two infants, the record hadn’t been broken for 34 years prior.
Six months after Curtis was released from the hospital, the doctors and staff members who cared for him surprised the family by presenting him with his Guinness World Record certificate.
Curtis is now a healthy, happy, and adorable little guy who is growing stronger every day. His parents still mourn the loss of his sister, but they’re so grateful for the army of medical personnel who saved their little boy’s life.
Share this story to congratulate Curtis for making history in such a meaningful way.
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