This exceptional preemie has truly defied all medical odds. Having only less than a 1% survival chance is a hopeless case. But this brave young man proved that it was enough for him to not only survive but to thrive.
Michelle Butler, mom of baby Curtis Zy-Keith Means gave birth on July 5, 2020. Curtis was only 21 weeks and 1 day old when he was born, a little over 5 months. He had a twin but unfortunately, C’Asya, his twin, died a day after being born. Curtis was so small and only weighed less than 1 pound.
According to kidshealth.org, “Babies born more than 3 weeks earlier than their expected due date are called “premature.” Curtis was the youngest preemie ever born. “It was very stressful. I was in the hospital for 4 days and I got discharged but Curtis spent 275 days in the hospital,” Butler recalled.
This fighter had a lot of breathing support and was on medication for his heart and lungs. As weeks pass by, slowly, the doctors decrease the amount of medicine given to him. He was taken off the ventilator after 3 months and was sent home at 9 months. But he has nasal cannula oxygen and was fed through a gastrostomy tube at home. Dr. Colm Travers, Assistant Professor at the UAB Division of Neonatology, explained his development in an interview.
When this baby champion was discharged everyone was in high spirits. This was truly a feat in the medical field because survival for Curtis was impossible. “Survival at this gestational age has never happened before, so before Curtis was born his chances of survival would have been far less than 1%,” Dr. Travers further explained. The doctor was surprised to see this infant responding well to the medicine they were administering.
“Curtis was a special young man and it was something unique about him and it was much excitement,” Dr. Brian Sims, Professor of Pediatrics at the UAB Division of Neonatology said. He was one of the doctors who treated him. “Curtis defied all scientific odds. Gestational age and birth weight are two key predictors of a premature baby’s survival, and other factors include if the baby is a female, a single birth and if the mother was administered steroids that help with lung development before birth. Curtis did not meet any of these criteria,” Dr. Travers told UAB News.
Because of this miracle, Curtis became a recipient of a Guinness World Record. He was the smallest baby born prematurely. He was the “the most premature baby” born at 21 weeks and 1 day, 132 days premature. No one has survived being born this early. The nurses, doctors, therapists who attended to Curtis were present when the Guinness World Record was awarded to this brave young boy. It was their first time to see him after being discharged from the hospital.
This was unchartered territory for the doctors before he was born. He was the first of his kind. Dr. Sims acknowledged that “his physiology was a little bit mature” which worked to his advantage.
Ultimately, it’s God who prepared this fighter’s body before he was born. It was He who gave the doctors and the medical team wisdom on how to navigate unchartered waters to help baby Curtis. “When I knew that he wasn’t having a good day, I just go over there to him to pray and hold my hand over him,” Butler said.
Curtis can be likened to Moses, what the enemy intended for his harm was turned to victory by God. All odds were also against Moses when he was born, but God spared him from being killed because He had a great plan for him. Curtis had defied all medical and scientific odds only because a great purpose is waiting for him.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10