Right before Richard Scott William Hutchinson was born, his doctors delivered the news that he had “a zero percent chance of survival,” his parents said.
Richard, the world’s most premature baby to survive, proved them wrong: He just turned 1.
On June 5, 2020 — four months before her due date — Richard’s mother, Beth Hutchinson, abruptly went into labor. She was 21 weeks and two days pregnant, meaning only about halfway to full gestation.
Richard came into the world weighing less than one pound — the scale read just 340 grams. He could fit into a single palm of a hand.
The delivery went smoothly, and the baby survived, but “they didn’t think he would make it very long after that,” said Beth Hutchinson, 36.
Stacy Kern, a neonatologist at the Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, where Richard was born, explained to Hutchinson and her husband, Rick Hutchinson, the heartbreaking odds for their only son.
“We have not resuscitated anyone younger than 22 weeks, so we did not have experience on how to care for a baby born at 21 weeks,” said Kern. “There’s a lot of things you need to worry about with delivering a baby this early.”
The news was devastating to the couple, who struggled with fertility issues for several years. When they found out she was pregnant in February 2020, “we were ecstatic,” said Beth Hutchinson.
They were shocked when they learned the baby’s prognosis, but they also felt resolve to fight for him.
“I wasn’t going to give up on my son,” vowed Rick Hutchinson, 40, who manages a gas station. “You are your child’s biggest advocate.”
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