Born too soon: From tiny baby to UT Freshman

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Thousands of eager college freshmen are going through orientation at the University of Texas. For one of them, it is a homecoming some thought might never happen.

“I feel like I’m making a full circle.”

18-year-old Hutson Burg is making that rite of passage.

“I will be going to UT this fall, and I will be entering into the honors engineering class of 2018,” Hutson said.

He was co-valedictorian of his senior class at a private school in Sugar Land, Texas. His smarts got him into some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Rice, Georgia Tech and MIT.

“I decided to stay close to home and go with UT come back to where I started.”

Hutson got his start in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. David’s Medical Center after arriving two months early. His first appearance on KXAN News was in 1995 as his mom, Leslee, watched her 4-pound son spend more than two months in the NICU.

“Anytime you have a child that is in intensive care… you feel kind of helpless, so of course its hard,” Leslee said in 1995.

Dr. Aduelio Rivera was his physician back then. This week, he reunited with Hutson and Leslee for the first time in 18 years.

“This is where you lived,” Rivera said as he showed Hutson the NICU. “This is where you slept, and you did that for a long time until you were able to get big enough to make your own heat, and then we put you into an open bassinet.”

“He took the chances and the risks and was willing to fight for these kiddos, and we’re grateful,” Leslee said. “And Hutson’s come full circle.”

Dr. Rivera says premature babies often have difficulty learning.

“I think we should pay special attention to those children so that all of them have the ability to do what Hutson is doing,” he said.

“My development was different because when you develop outside the womb, as opposed to inside, your brain develops in a different way,” Hutson said. “And I feel like although I did struggle early on with that, at this point I have been able to overcome it, and I have been able to even use the differences in my brain to my advantage.”

After starting as a tiny baby in the NICU, Hutson is now ready for the next chapter.

“Just generally trying to find out what I am going to do with my life… and how I can change the world.”


In-Depth: Premature births

The number of premature babies born to mothers in the U.S. has risen in the last 30 years.

According to the CDC, 1 in 8 babies is born premature in the U.S., at least three weeks before the due date.

Things that can put you at higher risk include:

  • Carrying more than one baby
  • Chronic health problems in the mother, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and clotting disorders
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or illicit drug use during pregnancy.

At St. David’s, where Hutson Burg was born, Dr. Rivera started a high risk follow-up clinic for premature babies three years ago.

Doctors at the clinic can see how children born early develop compared to those born at full term. Their goal is to to identify learning and motor issues and start programs early.

The program begins when the child leaves the neonatal ICU and continues until the first grade. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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