PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Max Do left the hospital for the first time in his young life Monday, after 11 months of battling a rare condition that prevents him from absorbing nutrients.
Known as the "mayor" of the NICU, Max graduated from the unit to great fanfare Monday at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge.
Dozens of staff members cheered him on during his sendoff which included bubbles and a live guitar performance.
Max was born at 31 weeks with congenital sodium diarrhea, a condition with as few as 50 cases ever reported. After fighting for his life for the first few months, Max showed incredible progress, eating his first bites of food and taking his first steps in the hospital.
"We take everything day by day, but overall, we’re really happy and grateful," Max's mother Kim Nguyen said. "You can see Max is a really happy baby. Every time he smiles, it’s amazing. I just want to see him smile."
Now that he's out of the hospital, Max will get to meet his sister for the first time and celebrate his first birthday on June 4.
Max's father, Dan Do, said the experience has made their family extremely grateful.
"Having a child in the NICU makes you slow down a little bit," Dan Do said. "You appreciate the small things. My favorite thing is when I’m reading to him and he looks up at me and knowing that he knows 'this is dad. This is family.'"