Cullen Potter, who is now five months old, began life much earlier than most. He was born at 22 weeks, just over half of a full-term pregnancy. Doctors gave Cullen a 2% chance of survival but, after 160 days in the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, he’ll be going home safe and sound.
To celebrate, nurses dressed Cullen up in his own cap and gown for a graduation ceremony to the rest of his life!
Cullen is still very small, weighing just under six pounds. He’s so small, in fact, his cap and gown were purchased from a local Build-A-Bear, but are still a few sizes too big for the newborn.
According to Cullen’s father, Robert Potter:
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.
While nurses grow close to the babies in their care and often give children a “send-off” with their families, this was the first time the hospital crew gave a child the full pomp and circumstance treatment. As graduation music played, a nurse carried Cullen through a hospital hallway to his parents.
Renee Rogers, the NICU’s nurse manager, says these little touches are important for both the families and the hospital staff:
Our families spend a lot of time here and we become family with each other. When it’s time to go home, it’s emotional not just for the families but for the staff as well.
If anyone is curious as to what it means to be a #nicunurse, watch this beautiful video of little Cullen Potter graduating from USA Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Bless his little heart! #nicugraduationhttps://t.co/FOSNhAsyzq
— Paige Deanne (@paigedubtweets) August 30, 2018
Cullen has already come further than many thought he would. His father commented to ABC News:
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. We called 16 different hospitals in three different states to find a hospital that would deliver him at under 24 weeks.
Cullen was born weighing 13.9 OUNCES and left the hospital a full month before his due date. Though he’s still on a “minimal dose of oxygen,” doctors have given him a clean bill of health!
Cullen’s father is beyond relieved everything has worked out so well:
We’re relieved to have everybody home together. With everything that could have happened, he is here and thriving.
Cullen Potter gets to celebrate one “extra” graduation in his lifetime. After being born at only 22 weeks and 13.9 ounces he left the NICU at University of South Alabama's Children's Hospital with honors! Hats off to all of our NICU graduates and their incredible journeys. pic.twitter.com/hKfmca4SZ2
— HealthCall-Detroit (@health_call) August 28, 2018