Babies are born early every single day. In fact, 8.7% of babies are born premature in Australia. The majority (81%) are born between 32 and 36 weeks gestation.
However, this little fella was born at just 21 weeks and 2 days gestation. That’s only slightly halfway through the standard 40-week gestational period.
Richard’s VERY early arrival
Like most mums-to-be Elizabeth Hutchinson was in her second trimester and feeling a bit uncomfortable. Thinking it was a UTI, she made an appointment with her doctor, who discovered she was already 3cm dilated and actually going into labour.
At that time I wasn’t even 21 weeks. I didn’t know what to think. ‘He can’t come yet.’ I wasn’t even at the halfway point of my pregnancy.” Elizabeth told WCCO.
‘We wanted to try’
Elizabeth was immediately admitted to the hospital in hopes of stopping the labour. She was told that her son wouldn’t survive if he was born.
[The doctor] asked if we would want to hold the baby before he passed away,” dad, Rick, writes on their GoFundMe account.
“I asked the doctor, ‘what do you mean before he passes away?’. He informed me that the baby was too small and undeveloped to live outside his mother and that they do not resuscitate babies under 22 weeks.
They told me that they wouldn’t do anything for him because of his size and gestational age. That wasn’t an option for us. We fought so hard to have him. We told them we wanted them to try. They agreed to try.”
Smaller than a tin of soap
Elizabeth delivered Richard in the amniotic sac. He was 27 cm and weighed just 375 grams – less than a tin of soap. The average newborn is around 50cm long and weighs about 3.2kg.
The medical team immediately put the sac into a blanket and carried it to the adjoining room where the neonatal team was waiting to receive the baby.
10 minutes later the neonatal doctor informed us that the baby was alive but they did not think he was going to make it. They never heard of a baby surviving at this young of an age.”
Doctors also discovered that the baby had sepsis due to an infection in the sac, which was most likely the cause of the pre-term birth.
Miracle baby Richard
Due to the advances in modern medicine, more and more babies born incredibly premature are now able to survive. Two-thirds of babies born at 24 weeks gestation who are admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) will survive to go home.
However, with a baby born at 21 weeks, this number dramatically drops.
We know that babies born at 21 weeks usually have a poor prognosis, so actually, the family was given a 0% chance for baby Richard,” Dr Stacey Kern said.
While Richard spent the first six months in NICU, undergoing plenty of major milestones and surgeries, he is now at home with his mum and dad and absolutely thriving!
FUN FACT: Richard could soon be named the smallest baby ever to survive. He’ll most likely be added to the Guinness Book of World Records after he turns one.
The near one-year-old now weighs nearly 6kg and is teething and weaning off oxygen.
To watch Richard grow and watch him develop into this happy little amazing person, there’s just no feeling like it.”
You can follow Richard’s journey and donate through his GoFundMe account.
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