From the moment Walker Pruett entered the world on April 25, he had to fight to survive. Born at 26 weeks (about three months premature), he weighed just 1 pound, 3 ounces and was so fragile that his mother couldn’t even hold him for the first five days of his life. But incredibly, over the next few weeks, Walker's parents watched with hope as he steadily grew healthier and stronger. Today he is 3 months old and weighs more than 5 pounds.
Walker’s amazing transformation was captured in a heart-squeezing time-lapse video created by a team of volunteer photographers at Capturing Hopes Photography. The video is part of the group's “Project 100 Days" series, which documents the growth and transformation of premature babies in neonatal intensive care units over the course of 100 days.
(Watch Walker's video, above.)
Each year, one out of every eight infants in the United States is born premature. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more infants “die from preterm-related problems than from any other single cause,” and many of those who survive require special care. Some also suffer from long-term health problems.
For parents watching helplessly as their baby struggles for survival, it can be easy to fall into despair -- and Deneen Bryan, the founder of Capturing Hopes Photography, understands that feeling all too well.
In the 1990s, Bryan's 4-month-old daughter, Christina, died after undergoing several surgeries, including a liver transplant. Before Christina's death, a professional photographer came by the hospital to take a photograph of Bryan’s family. Bryan says she didn’t think much of it at the time, but the significance of the photo became clear after her daughter died.
“After [Christina] passed away, we got the photos in the mail,” Bryan told The Blaze earlier this month. “That’s when I really realized how important those photos were. That was our only professional photo that we had of our family at the time.”
The experience eventually led Bryan to launch Capturing Hopes Photography and connect professional photographer volunteers with families who have children in the hospital.
Capturing Hopes recently launched its “Project 100 Days," and Walker Pruett was the first baby to be documented in the series. He, however, was photographed for only 80 days before the hospital allowed his parents to take him home.
On her blog, Walker’s mom called the video a “great gift.”
“It is really amazing to watch him grow,” she added.