Nancy Pastor/Polaris
April 10, 2009 09:05 AM

Despite some media reports that he is “fighting for his life,” hospital officials tell PEOPLE exclusively that the one octuplet still hospitalized has tripled in weight and is “doing very well,” although he has a cleft lip that will be repaired in a few months.

Jonah Solomon, born Jan. 26 at 1 lb., 8 oz., now weighs in at 4 lbs., 6 oz., according to Mandhir Gupta, Jonah’s neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center. “Baby Jonah is doing very well. In fact, he’s thriving,” Gupta tells PEOPLE exclusively. “He’s getting stronger with each passing day.”

The doctor says he’s still not certain when Jonah will be able join his mother, Nadya Suleman, and his 13 siblings at their La Habra home.

“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,” Dr. Gupta tells PEOPLE.

Jonah’s cleft lip hasn’t hurt his ability to receive nutrition and gain weight, hospital officials say. Dr. Gupta says the lip will be repaired “as an outpatient in a few months.”

Dr. Babak Azizzadeh, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeons who routinely performs such surgeries, says it can be more difficult for an infant to feed with a cleft lip because the lip muscles are interrupted. On the other hand, “if he’s in the hospital, he will get adequate nutrition,” he says.”

Azizzadeh says he usually operates when a baby is at least three months old and weighs at least 10 pounds. During the hour-long surgery, the baby is placed 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 undergo follow-up plastic surgery years later to straighten the nose or remove a scar.

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