"Mighty Bruce" beats the odds during Pre-Maturity Awareness Month

Premature babies are one of the many concerns pediatric doctors deal with on a regular basis. 

And a new survey is showing that Indiana is one of the least prepared states when it comes to this condition. 

Indiana is ranked 41st out of 50, with a 9.7 percent preterm birth rate, in the recent study by the March Of Dimes Prematurity Campaign.

But one micro preemie is beating all the odds despite these statistics.

Cassie Walker, the parent of a premature baby in South Bend said, “to see him now and to look back at pictures of him when he was first born, you don't even think it's the same baby, like you've experienced it but you're like wait a second how did this even happen?”

It was one year after that her son was born three months earlier.

“He was born at 25 weeks gestation so he was one pound fifteen ounces and that is considered a micro-preemie.”

We first met Bruce in February when he was released from the hospital for the first time. 

At that time he was still on oxygen full time, dealing with a heart condition and numerous other health conditions, due to his preterm birth.

But Bruce is now breathing on his own and thriving with the help of physical and occupational therapy.

His dad, Derek Sleman, said, “He likes to play with his toys, be on his tummy, he tries really hard to crawl but he's not quite there yet but we're working on it with physical therapy so he's getting there.”

And Walker added, “you talk to him and he coos back. He laughs, smiles, he's very interested in what we are doing, like if we are watching movies he'll sit there and watch movies like he knows what's going on ha ha. Fast forwarding to now it's basically like nothing happened.”

But we can’t say he is done fighting just yet.

Premature births can lead to long term intellectual and developmental disabilities, in the worst cases leading to cerebral palsy and autism.

But for now, Walker said Bruce is beating those odds as well.

“Developmental wise, he's at about a 5 to 6 month range. But because he was on oxygen for so long that kind of hampers the motor skills so that's why he's a little bit behind on that but socially he's at a 12 month range so he's doing exceptionally well with that.”

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