Photo/IllutrationToshiko Sekino, center, holds her son who was born as the world’s smallest boy to have survived at 258 grams as her family leaves the Nagano Children’s Hospital in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture, on April 20. (Takumi Ono)

  • Photo/Illustraion

AZUMINO, Nagano Prefecture--Just in time for his first "hanami" cherry blossom viewing, the tiny infant boy who was born weighing only 258 grams last year left a hospital here on April 20 with his delighted family.

Born on Oct. 1, Ryusuke Sekino was the world’s smallest boy at birth to have survived. The 6-month-old infant now weighs 3,374 grams.

Ryusuke checked out of the Nagano Children’s Hospital with his father, Kohei, mother, Toshiko, and three siblings. The family went for a stroll to view the cherry blossoms in full bloom in the prefecture.

Toshiko said she is hoping that the baby will grow up to be a person who will be of service to many people.

The couple’s oldest child, Yuhei, a first-year junior high school boy, said, “I would like to play winter sports with my little brother when he grows up.”

Takehiko Hiroma, doctor who heads the hospital’s neonatology department, sent off the family, saying, “Congratulations, and this is just the beginning.”

Toshiko delivered the boy via an emergency caesarean section, two days after being hospitalized, as doctors feared that the baby had little chance of surviving in her womb as she suffered from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and other conditions.

At that time, she was in her 24th week and fifth day of pregnancy.

When he was born, Ryusuke weighed only half the weight of an average baby at the same stage of pregnancy.

The infant was 22-cm tall, and his skin was too thin so that his internal organs and bones were visible.

“His skin was so thin that he would have been injured if hospital staff had touched him,” according to the hospital.

Ryusuke was so tiny that hospital staff had a difficult time finding a blood vessel large enough to administer intravenous drips through to keep him healthy.

The hospital is the only medical facility in the prefecture that can operate on and treat premature babies born in the 22nd to 26th weeks of pregnancy.

There were 10 babies who have survived and left the hospital over the past five years after they were born weighing less than 500 grams, according to the hospital.