Just like premature babies, Santa came by early this year too
A star, called 41 Dra, which resides in the constellation of Draco was dedicated to the staff and physicians of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital on World Prematurity Day (WPD), November 17, 2011. The star, donated by the Guest family, is in honour of their little girl, Annaliese, who was born prematurely and stayed at the NICU for several weeks. “For the two months we were in the hospital, the staff were so amazing that it felt like we had gained an extended family,” says mom Shannon Guest.
Shannon was one of fifty families who marked World Prematurity Day at a party at the Grey Nuns. In addition to the precious little ones, the other guest of honour at the party was Santa Claus—who came early, just like these babies.
Almost 8,600 babies are delivered at the Grey Nuns and Misericordia Community Hospitals each year, with 2,310 admitted to the Intensive Care Nursery, either due to prematurity or medical complications. In Alberta, one in eight babies is born prematurely; globally the figure is one in 10. More newborns die of prematurity than from any other cause.
Redeveloped in 2009, the Grey Nuns Intermediate Care Nursery offers family-centred care, caring for the smallest patients—some just over 1000 grams (about 2 pounds)—and provides support to families through an often anxious and frightening period in their lives.
“The most challenging part of having a premature baby was not being able to hold him for the first three weeks of his life,” says Alana Wilson, whose son Jaedan was a mere 3 lbs 15 ounces when he arrived and spent those first weeks in an isolette. Now, Alana’s challenge lies in “watching time pass” as she waits for him to be strong enough to go home.
Bringing families together to mark WPD was an important part of the hope and healing necessary for premature babies and their families. “It was great to see kids who are older who have gotten over this hump and are now crawling, twirling, laughing and having fun,” says Shannon.
For the staff and physicians whose life work revolves around journeying with families and their children through a difficult time, it is an honour and privilege. “We take tremendous pride in caring for premature babies and their families. They require the very gentlest of care and compassion,” says Gail Cameron, Director, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Programs, Covenant Health. “Life does not start out perfectly for all babies and their families. Our work is to care for them so that they have a chance at a healthy, happy life.”
- The World Health Organization initiated Prematurity Awareness Day, which is celebrated on November 17 every year.
- This year, the City of Edmonton proclaimed this day as Prematurity Awareness Day.
View photosfrom the event!