The guest of honor at this graduation party wore a tiny cap and gown and an oxygen tube in his nose.
Oliver Rodriguez-Ocampo is finally leaving the pediatric intensive care unit at Hennepin Healthcare after a total hospital stay of 515 days. And for the staff who threw him a "graduation" party, it's a bittersweet milestone.
Dr. Tina Slusher said that at 1 pound, 3.8 ounces, Oliver was not the hospital's smallest premature baby. However, she said Oliver has made a big impression on everyone there.
"He's a real trouper and he's a good little guy," said Slusher. "He doesn't cry a lot. And, we're really excited to see him go home. We're going to miss him. But we're excited he's going home."
Slusher said Oliver will go home with a supply of oxygen and plenty of care instructions. For a while, Oliver had a tube in his trachea to help him breathe. Slusher said he doesn't need that anymore. Babies born that small are often plagued with breathing problems because their lungs are underdeveloped, she said.
"He had many times in the nursery especially, where he almost didn't make it," she said.
Slusher added that Oliver will still need to eat through a feeding tube for a while. And he'll be susceptible to viruses, so Slusher said Oliver can't be around anyone who's sick.
Oliver's mother, Manuela Ocampo, said she gave birth to Oliver after just 25 weeks. She said one of the first things she'll do when she gets home with her son is to practice all the procedures the medical staff has told her to do.
Ocampo said she's excited to be bringing him home. It's a day she wasn't sure was ever going to happen.
"If I'm being honest with you — I don't believe in miracles," said Ocampo. "But he's a miracle to me."