Smallest Preemie Ever Born at Nebraska Hospital Heads Home After 116 Days

After 116 days in the NICU, the smallest baby to ever survive premature birth at a Nebraska hospital is now home.

John McClinton, who his parent’s nicknamed “Buddy,” was born at 24 weeks and two days. Weighing less than a pound, Buddy is the smallest premature baby ever to survive birth at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha. 

“Buddy weighed 14.1 ounces and measured 9.65 inches when he was born on Labor Day, and he is the smallest baby born at the hospital to survive,” staff at Methodist Women’s Hospital announced in a press release on Jan. 16.

Buddy’s parents, John and Ashley McClinton, experienced 14 years of infertility and a stillbirth of their daughter Caroline in 2022. They were feeling emotional when heading for another very early labor once again in September 2023. Around 20 weeks, Buddy stopped growing in the womb and Ashley’s blood pressure increased rapidly.

“What went through my mind was, ‘Lord, I cannot lose another child. I cannot bury another baby,’” she said.

When Buddy was born, there was a peace that flooded his parent’s hearts.

“He came and he was very small,” said Ashley. “But he came out trying to cry and pink and flailing around, and I think we all just kind of knew he was gonna be okay.”

“He’s just fought the whole time,” she added. “He’s a little champion.”

Buddy’s entire experience in the NICU can be best described as a miracle. One of the neonatologists who cared for him, Dr. Chinyere Oarhe, said it was remarkable that he didn’t experience any bleeding in the brain, which is common among preemies. “That is amazing for a baby delivered at 24 weeks, 400 grams, that the brain was clean, no bleeds,” Oarhe said.

Although the 116 days Buddy spent in the hospital were filled with many obstacles, Ashley said that when it was time for him to be discharged, it was “bittersweet.”

“We have formed such close relationships with all of the people that took care of him for [these]116 days,” she said to Fox News. “So it was a joyful day. But also, you know, a lot of tears, too, because those people that cared for him so well have become like a second family to us.”

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Ashley told Fox News Digital that Buddy is happy and adjusting great to being at home. 

“We have dreamed of being parents for so long and we are so grateful. Buddy is doing so good!” the happy mom said. “He’s very opinionated and most content being held, which we love. We are enjoying every minute with him.”

The McClinton’s hope that Buddy’s story will be a flicker of hope to families who have had preterm births or lost a child. 

“We pray it gives people struggling with similar issues some comfort and encouragement,” she told Fox News Digital. “I’ve had people from all over the country reach out who have micro preemies in the NICU who are sharing their stories with us. We’re blessed to hear from them and honored to cheer them on.”

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