- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

OAK LAWN, Ill., Feb. 12 (UPI) — Michael Despain spent his first full day at his Monee, Ill., home Wednesday, four months after being born at just 12 1/2 ounces.

Weighing in at a relatively hefty 4 pounds, 9 ounces, Michael was released from Christ Hospital and Medical Center Tuesday. His twin, Jennifer, died shortly after birth.

"I'm nervous and anxious," mom, Janet, told the Chicago Tribune. "But I'm ready for him to come home."

Dr. Edward Bell, director of neonatal care at Children's Hospital of Iowa, said Michael is believed the third smallest boy to survive. The hospital keeps a registry of babies born weighing less than 14 ounces.

Michael was delivered by Caesarean section Oct. 18, a month after doctors had determined Michael and his twin had stopped growing after 22 weeks gestation and their heartbeats were irregular. Janet Despain, 28, said her newborns were so tiny she could have held them in one hand.

Doctors said Michael was less than half the size of a normal 26-week fetus, but though he suffered a collapsed lung at birth, he did not experience other problems that generally plague premature infants, including brain hemorrhaging, heart problems and infections. Janet's lungs, however, were less mature than Michael's and she died six hours after birth.

Janet Despain and her husband, Jeff, 31, were able to hold their son for the first time Dec. 13. The couple has two other children, Joe, 6, and Danielle, 3.

Despite his hospital release, Michael's condition still is precarious. The Despains have installed a cardiorespiratory monitor and other medical equipment to monitor his condition. They have spare oxygen tanks on hand and have undergone training on how to care for him.


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