It’s not often that a person becomes a Guinness World Record-holder before they can even walk, but Curtis Means is no ordinary person. In fact, he’s what you might call a miracle.
Curtis was born, along with his twin sister C’Asya, on July 5, 2020 — 132 days premature. His sister died a day later and doctors didn’t have the highest of hopes for Curtis.
At the time of his birth, Curtis weighed just 14.8 ounces and he wasn’t much larger than an eggplant. According to a statement from UAB Hospital, his chances of survival were less than 1%.
“We typically advise for compassionate care in situations of such extremely preterm births,” Dr. Brian Sims, the attending physician said. “This allows the parents to hold their babies and cherish what little time they may have together.”
Little Curtis was defiant to beat the odds, however, and kept pushing through from one day to the next. After 275 days at the hospital, he was declared healthy enough to go home — with a world record to his name to boot. Curtis had beat the previous record for the world’s most premature infant to survive by one day.
It was an uphill battle from day one, but Sims said the hospital’s “RNICU team jumped into action.” Respiratory therapists hooked Curtis up to ventilators to help with his breathing — which he stayed on for the first three months of his life. Ever so slowly, Curtis began to show signs of strength. His heart rate increased as did his oxygen levels. Nurses provided round-the-clock care, checking his vitals and helping to soothe him to sleep. “We were in uncharted territory,” Sims said.
Sumita Gray, an RNICU nurse on Curtis’ team went on to say: “There were days when we were unsure that he would survive. 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.”
While Curtis needed help from therapists to use his mouth with eating and he still uses a feeding tube and supplemental oxygen sometimes, taking him home to meet his siblings was a joy his mother Michelle Butler said she’ll never forget. “Being able to finally take Curtis home and surprise my older children with their younger brother is a moment I will always remember,” mother Michelle Butler of Eutaw, Alabama, said in a statement.
Upon leaving the hospital and learning that he was a Guinness World Record recipient, Butler and Curtis posed with Dr. Sims along with members of his hospital care team to celebrate the occasion.
As Dr. Sims put it, “We do not know what all the future will hold for Curtis since there is no one else like him. He started writing his own story the day he was born.” For now, though, Curtis is a happy and healthy baby who triumphed over impossible odds. “He’s very active now,” said his proud mother.
Photos via University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital