'Micro-preemie' born at 24 weeks finally goes home

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Baby Liam is Advocate Children's Hospital's first patient to graduate from its new micro-preemie program. (WLS)

Katie and Matthew Rauen are finally bringing their son Liam home, and they got quite the send-off.

That's because Liam is Advocate Children's Hospital's first patient to graduate from its new micro-preemie program. He was even given a cap and gown. The moment came more than 100 days after Liam entered the world at just 24 weeks.

"Bottle feeding, off oxygen. No monitors. No tubes. We get just baby," said mom Katie Rauen.

Liam was actually due two days ago. But back in December, Katie gave birth to Liam and his twin sister.

He weighed just 1 pound, 9 ounces, and needed breathing machines and feeding tubes. His sister ultimately did not survive.

To meet the medically complex needs of micro-preemies, the hospital used an intuitive approach.

"We can in no way replicate the womb, but we can try to come as close as we can to that," said Dr. Brett Galley, with Advocate Children's Hospital.

"The idea of containment so that they still feel like they're safe in the uterus. That means someone lays two hands on them while someone else does whatever has to happen," Liam's mother said.

Liam leaves the hospital weighing 7 pounds now, and is ready to hang out with his 4-year-old brother.

"The way we deliver our care really matters for these babies. And it matters not just for Liam going home today, but it matters when he's 4, 5, 20 years old," Dr. Galley said.

Liam will be coming back to the hospital regularly for follow-up care. His first check-up will be tomorrow.
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