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Premature baby was ‘barely bigger than a Coke.’ Watch him ‘graduate’ from the hospital

Baby dons tiny cap and gown as he ‘graduates’ from NICU

A baby boy, born at just 22 weeks, was discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama on Aug. 21. Video shows 5-month-old Cullen Potter “graduating” from the NICU after 160 days in hospital.
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A baby boy, born at just 22 weeks, was discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama on Aug. 21. Video shows 5-month-old Cullen Potter “graduating” from the NICU after 160 days in hospital.

When Cullen Potter was born at just 22 weeks in March, his mom, Molli Potter, wrote on Facebook, doctors gave the premature baby a 2 percent chance of survival.

But after 160 days inside the neonatal intensive care unit, Cullen beat the odds — and has just left the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, according to AL.com.

He closed out that chapter of his life in style. A video shows a celebration as Cullen “graduates” from the hospital and gets ready to go home for the first time.

A nurse is seen carrying Cullen, who is wearing a cap and gown, as music plays in the background. As she walks the boy down a hallway, a group of smiling people watch and chuckle, the video shows. Cullen, meanwhile, seems to handle the attention like a pro.

“Where’s the diploma at?” one person asks.

Renee Rogers, nurse manager for the NICU, said that it’s an “emotional” moment when a baby can leave the hospital in good health after an early birth, according to Good Morning America. After all, she said, the patients and their relatives become like “family.”

“Our families spend a lot of time here and we become family with each other,” Rogers said, according to GMA. “When it’s time to go home, it’s emotional not just for the families but for the staff as well.”

The preterm birth rate is up across the nation and even higher in Georgia and Bibb County.

To prepare for the ceremony, Cullen’s parents say they bought the 6-pound baby a cap and gown from Build-A-Bear, GMA reported.

“The hat was actually a little big,” Robert Potter, his father, reportedly told GMA.

It wasn’t an easy road to get to the “graduation.”

Molli said that last year brought two miscarriages, AL.com reported, and she spent three weeks in a Florida hospital because of complications with her pregnancy.

Doctors there gave her baby boy a slim chance of living, she wrote on Facebook, so her husband reached out to more than a dozen hospitals looking for someone to give Cullen the opportunity to live.

Then the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital stepped in, performing a C-Section and nursing Cullen to health, AL.com reported. Now the baby boy, with an “adjusted age” of 1-month, is home with his parents and big brother Kayden.

And as for the long odds that Cullen had to beat to get there?

“Well, here’s our 2%,” his mother wrote on Facebook. “Perfect in every way. God is good big boy.”

Families whose children were patients in St. Luke's Health System newborn intensive care units came to the 34th annual NICU reunion picnic in August 2016 at Boise's Municipal Park, reuniting with the doctors and nurses who cared for the babies. Me

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