Seven down, one to go. The last of the octuplets – a boy born at just 1 lb., 8 oz. – has tripled in weight and is close to going home, although he has a cleft lip that will be repaired in a few months, his doctor tells PEOPLE.
"Baby Jonah is doing very well. In fact, he's thriving. He's getting stronger with each passing day," Mandhir Gupta, a neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center, tells PEOPLE exclusively.
Contrary to media reports that the baby is fighting for his life, Jonah has grown to 4 lbs., 6 oz. since his birth Jan. 26 with seven other babies, who have since gone home to their mother, Nadya Suleman.
Still, "He needs time to continue to grow so it will still be a few weeks, but the staff is pleased with Jonah's consistent progress," Gupta says.
Cleft lip surgeryJonah's cleft lip hasn't hurt his ability to get nutrition and gain weight. Gupta says the lip will be repaired "as an outpatient in a few months." Dr. Babak Azizzadeh, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeons who routinely does such surgeries, says it can be more difficult for an infant to feed with a cleft lip because the lip muscles are interrupted; however, "If he's in the hospital, he will get adequate nutrition." Azizzadeh (who is not treating Jonah) says he usually does such surgeries when a baby is at least 3 months old and weighs at least 10 lbs. During the hour-long surgery, the baby is put under general anesthesia, the lip and nose muscles are realigned, and the lips receive approximately 25 to 30 stitches.
Only one surgery is usually required, although patients will sometimes get a followup plastic surgery years later to straighten the nose or remove a scar.