World’s Most Premature Baby, Given 0% Chance to Survive, Celebrates His First Birthday

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 21, 2021   |   4:29PM   |   Washington, DC

Richard Scott William Hutchinson’s 1st birthday celebration on June 5 was extra special because the Wisconsin infant was not supposed to survive.

Recently, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Hutchinson the most premature baby ever to survive, CNN reports.

Hutchinson, of St Croix County, Wisconsin, was born at 21 weeks gestation – 131 days before his due date, according to the report. He weighed just 11.9 ounces, and his parents said he could fit in the palm of their hands, WCCO Minneapolis reports.

Before giving birth, Beth Hutchinson said doctors at the Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis told her and her husband that their son would not survive.

“When Rick and Beth received prenatal counseling on what to expect with a baby born so early, they were given a 0-percent chance of survival by our neonatology team,” Dr. Stacy Kern, a neonatologist at the hospital, told Guinness World Records. “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.”

Because Richard was born during the pandemic, the hospital limited his parents’ visits and did not allow other family or friends to see him in person, according to the report.

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Rick and Beth Hutchinson said they traveled every day from Wisconsin to Minnesota to visit their son because they were not allowed to stay with him overnight at the hospital.

Finally, in December, Richard was deemed well enough to leave the hospital. His parents said he made it home in time for Christmas.

Reflecting on her son’s birthday, his mother said she still finds it hard to believe that her son almost died.

“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,” she said. “It doesn’t feel real. 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.”

Research shows that more premature babies are surviving and thriving thanks to modern medicine.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy. This and other research recently prompted the British Association of Medicine to issue new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.

Prior to Richard, the earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s survival story. The smallest recorded surviving baby weighed less than 9 ounces at birth.