CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A North Carolina family is getting the ultimate gift this holiday season, bringing their baby home after 17 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Staff at UNC Children's in Chapel Hill celebrating the discharge of baby Phillip Gaines on Monday, December 18. Phillip's sendoff included Christmas music and a cap and gown.
Friends and family lined the streets of Dunn as the family pulled into town.
The Gaines family was finally able to bring Philliip home after 17 months which is a record for the longest stay ever by a premature newborn in the NICU in Chapel Hill. Mom Georganna Gaines' water broke at 20 weeks.
Phillip was born at 30 weeks and 3 days. The Gaines family says it's been a long road with some dark days calling his discharge a miracle.
"There are a lot of people who never gave up on him," explained Georganna Gaines. "Even when stuff looks so dark and so bleak.
"By the grace of God, this little guy is a miracle, and we are here today. And, I'm happy to say that he is thriving. He is a full-blown toddler. I think people hear that he's a NICU graduate, and they think of this tiny little preemie and our guy is like 25 pounds!"
Phillip is ventilator and oxygen dependent now but his prognosis is good. Doctors are hopeful he will come off the ventilator around kindergarten.
The Gaines family is looking forward to Santa visiting Phillip at home this Christmas.