A BABY boy who holds the Guinness World Record for the 'world's most premature baby' has defied all the odds and celebrated his first birthday.
Baby Richard Hutchinson was born 131 days premature when he arrived in the world on 5 June, 2020, weighing just 11.9oz and small enough to fit into the palm of his mother's hand.
His devastated parents were told that their newborn son, born four months premature, had 0% chance of survival; he was immediately whisked away to the NICU, with his mother and father unable to stay with him due to Covid-19 restrictions.
But baby Richard fought through all the odds, and last week celebrated his first birthday at home in Wisconsin with his overjoyed parents and large extended family.
The "miracle baby" was awarded with a Guinness World Record title of 'the world's most premature baby' to survive.
His mother, Beth Richardson, said "it doesn't feel real" that her son had broken the Guinness World Record, previously held by a Canadian boy who was born 128 days premature in 1987.
"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."
Richard is now a bubbly, happy baby with bright blue eyes, a fantastic smile and a huge love for the three family dogs, who Richard "loves to hang out with", his parents say.
Their love for their son saw the mother and father travel from Wisconsin to Minneapolis every single day to spend what brief time they were allowed with Richard while he was in NICU for months during the Covid-19 crisis.
Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving were all spent in the hospital, before Rick and Beth were able to bring their then-six-month-old son home in time for Christmas.
"We made sure we were there to give him support," Rick said. "I think that helped him get through this because he knew he could count on us."
This sentiment is echoed by Richard's neonatologist Dr Stacy Kern, who told Guinness World Records that she credits his "miraculous survival" to "his wonderful parents who were there for him every step of the way and to the entire neonatology team at Children’s Minnesota."
"Rick and Beth fought for Richard day after day and never stopped advocating for their baby through it all. Their strength and ability to stay positive and hopeful even during the most stressful and difficult times was inspiring."
Remembering the joyous day where Richard was finally able to go home with his parents, Dr Kern said "I remember picking him up out of his crib and just holding him with tears in my eyes."
"I couldn’t believe this was the same little boy that once was so sick, that I feared he may not survive.
"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."
Baby Richard still has some ways to go, still requiring oxygen and a feeding tube, but "he has come a long way and is doing amazing", Beth says.
"He is a very happy baby. Always has a smile on the adorable little face of his. His bright blue eyes and smile get me every time."