HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A five-and-a-half-month miracle in the making saw the sunlight for the first time in his young life Wednesday.

Xavier Workman — born more than four months premature — was finally released from Cabell Huntington Hospital on Wednesday, nearly 170 days after birth.

The son of Scottie and Stephanie Workman, of Huntington, Xavier is the most premature infant Cabell Huntington Hospital has ever discharged at 22-week gestation — nearly unheard of in a time when babies born at 23 weeks are lucky to survive.

"He really is a miracle baby," said Dr. Bobby Miller, medical director for Cabell Huntington Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, where Workman had spent his entire life until Wednesday.

Born early in the morning of Jan. 24, Xavier weighed in at a meager 20 ounces and struggled heavily with a severely underdeveloped respiratory system. Paralyzed for three days and breathing through inhaled nitric oxide for eight weeks, the still fragile Xavier has since multiplied his birth weight by six to a comparatively whopping six pounds and six ounces.

"He was so sick from a respiratory standpoint, but he's made it through," Miller said. "I have very high hopes for him."

Around one in eight babies are born prematurely, though the vast majority of premature births are at 28 weeks or later. Around 70 babies per year are delivered earlier than 27 weeks at the hospital, Miller said, but none as early as Xavier.

"It's not totally uncommon, but to have a baby survive at 22 weeks is a new milestone for us," Miller said.

The baby who had beaten all the initially grim statistics on Wednesday wriggled gently in his mother's arms — normal if not for a few tubes still attached to him. Dressed in a tiny green graduation gown for his discharge day, his life is nothing short of a miracle, Stephanie said of her firstborn son, and a testament to how God has blessed their family.

"He's just overcome everything that's been thrown at him," Stephanie said. "We've had a long journey and it's had some tough times. But we've overcome it."

Though she said she and her husband will miss the staff that's looked after Xavier day and night since January, the family was more than ready to start a normal life at home.

"This is the best staff of doctors and nurses that we could ask for," Stephanie said. "But we're excited to go home and start our new normal as a family."

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com