Premature baby born at 22 weeks 'graduates' from ICU in full cap and gown
Cullen Potter, who spent 160 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, received a full graduation ceremony when he was released.
On August 24, the University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital in Mobile, Alabama shared the video of Cullen's graduation ceremony online.
In the clip, the little boy, who was born at 22 weeks, can be seen wearing a cap and gown.
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His mother, Molli Potter, purchased the cap and gown from a local Build-A-Bear store, as reported by GMA.
Cullen's father, Robert Potter, said: "We were [at Build-A-Bear] with our older son and my wife was looking and thought it would fit Cullen. The hat was actually a little big."
The video also shows a nurse carrying Cullen, now five months old, through a hospital hallway. A graduation music can be heard playing in the background.
According to the NICU's nurse manager, Renee Rogers, the hospital's NICU holds about 80 newborns and almost half of them were born at less than 28 weeks.
Though nurses typically do a send-off for the infants and their families when they are discharged, Cullen was the first with graduation music and a cap and gown.
"Our families spend a lot of time here and we become family with each other," Rogers said. "When it’s time to go home, it’s emotional not just for the families but for the staff as well."
Cullen's parents wanted to give their baby a graduation ceremony to acknowledge his extraordinary survival.
"My wife was on bed rest for three and-a-half weeks and we were told by our local hospital that [Cullen] had a two percent chance to live," Robert recounted.
"We called 16 different hospitals in three different states to find a hospital that would deliver him at under 24 weeks."
When they welcomed Cullen in March, he weighed only 13.9 ounces. Just over one month from what was supposed to be his mid-July due date with a clean bill of health, he was discharged from the hospital.
Cullen is on a minimal dose of oxygen but has no complications.
"We're relieved to have everybody home together," Robert said. "With everything that could have happened, he is here and thriving."