ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A love story filled with perseverance and a little luck. An Albuquerque family is getting ready to celebrate a big birthday for the smallest baby Presbyterian has ever taken care of.

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At just 24 weeks gestation, Jari came into the world weighing 11.5 ounces. Mom Amber Higgins and baby Jari’s first meeting was far from a private affair. A swarm of Presbyterian NICU nurses and doctors were crowded around the family, ready to start immediate care to help Jari breathe.

“Those breathing tubes only come so small, and that was our immediate concern was whether it was going to be small enough to actually fit in his little airway,” said NICE Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Anderson.

Dr. Anderson says luckily, the breathing tube fit but Jari’s tiny stature still only gave him a 30% chance of survival. “I remember going over to Amber afterward and saying… well, we’re going to make a go of it! The breathing tube fit and we’re going to see. It’s going to be a long and bumpy road I think,” said Dr. Anderson.

Slowly but surely, the tiny hand that couldn’t even wrap around the tip of mom’s finger grew and grew. “I didn’t get to hold him until he was almost a month old, so it was hard, but it was comforting to go in and sit with him and read with him,” said Higgins.

Over the course of 127 days, Jari grew from 11.5 ounces to a little more than 5 pounds, and he was finally cleared to go home. “It’s kind of amazing that we’re able to get babies from less than a pound and grow them up and send them home to their families. It’s the most rewarding job I can imagine,” said Dr. Anderson.

The family still meets up with some of Jari’s NICU nurses who love watching him grow. “I was just so thankful for all of the staff because it was such a touch-and-go situation for the first few months,” said Higgins. ” We were just taking it day by day.”

Now, they’re just days away from his big first birthday. For Jari’s birthday, his parents plan on having family over to celebrate.