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May 29, 2015
It was a time for celebration, for reuniting, and for giving thanks recently as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at LHSC’s Children’s Hospital hosted a celebration for premature babies born between 2008 and 2009. Over 70 families participated in this year’s event with some families travelling from as far as northern Ontario.
The event is held every two years, with the purpose of bringing the children together to celebrate how far they’ve come, and mark the next stage of life as they head into grade one or two at school. The event also gives parents the opportunity to visit with staff members who cared for their children, and share experiences and advice with other parents. This year’s event was organized by Donna Sharpe and Lynn Whitty - nurses in the Developmental Follow-up Clinic.
“The NICU provides care for more than 800 critically ill and premature newborns every year,” said Dr. Victor Han, Chair, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at LHSC. “The high-tech and expert care available at LHSC means babies born as early as 24 weeks gestation and weighing as a little as 500 grams have become graduates of the unit, most of them living active, healthy lives. There were two babies at this year’s event that were born under 500 grams at birth”.
Many of the children in attendance were followed for growth and development until preschool age at the Developmental Follow-up Clinic for premature and high risk babies located in the Pediatric Medical Day Unit. “We monitor each child’s progress to determine if growth and development is on schedule and to catch and problems early on,” said Dr. David Lee, Director, Developmental Follow-up Program at LHSC. “While the majority of our former patients do amazingly well and lead active and healthy lives, a number of them have varying degrees of challenges…. physical, cognitive or behavioral. Some of the kids are in wheelchairs. However, without exception, they are all happy kids. It warms my heart to see how all the parents, siblings and grandparents have met the special needs of these children over many years and have provided the love and care to nurture them. Their dedication is immeasurable!"
The children enjoyed a busy afternoon exploring every inch of entertainment centre Adventures on Wonderland, who generously donated the venue for the celebration. Along with the facility’s jungle climber, ball bin, mazes and slides, the children were also able to spend time exploring a display set up by NICU staff, including an incubator, equipment and ‘preemie sized’ clothing to see what life was like for them in the NICU.
“This is such a heartwarming event each year for all of us who work with these children,” said Dr. Han. “It’s great to see the families in a relaxed and fun setting, rather than in the hospital. It was a treat for all of us to see the tiny babies that we looked after in the NICU growing up to be healthy and active children, together with their parents. I was very excited to see one of my former patients, Juliette, who was born at 24 weeks and is now just over 5 years old. According to her mother, she is the top in her class and wants to become a doctor when she grows up”.
See more photos from the event in our Facebook Album