HOUSTON -- On Thursday, Lucas Marin got to go home for Christmas, a gift his parents didn t expect to get so soon after his premature birth in October at Texas Children s Hospital.

See he just tries to go too fast, his mom Maud Marin said as she fed Lucas a carefully measured bottle of milk hours before he was discharged from the hospital.

Lucas was born six weeks early and weighed just four pounds, eight ounces. His size wasn t considered a problem, but his intestinal problems were. His intestines weren t fully developed or connected. Surgery, feeding tubes, and nutrition from an IV line boosted him to nine pounds by the time of his original due date.

The IV will be part of his daily regimen at home, perhaps for the next year, but he does get to go home.

On any given day at Texas Children s Hospital, there are 120 infants in the neonatal intensive care unit waiting for that same gift. On average the NICU at the hospital treats 2,500 infants a year.

It may be a long road, said Marin. I was told that the next few years are going to be a little tricky. But we're looking way ahead and way further down the line, and I think he's going to be a great and healthy kid.

And once she and her husband have Lucas and his 3-year-old brother settled into their new routine at home, Marin can get back to solving other medical issues just across the street from the Texas Medical Center. She is one of four veterinarians on staff at the Houston Zoo.

Of course my patients are different, said Marin. Mine have a little more hair and they usually try to bite me. So hopefully this will be easier.

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