NICU fundraiser helps tiny miracles at Jewish General Hospital
There's a room at the Jewish General Hospital that is full of tiny miracles.
The neo-natal intensive care unit cares for premature babies as young as 22 weeks old. Featherweight and fragile, yet also incredibly tough, these newborns are the smallest survivors.
As more babies are being saved, however, there's a growing strain on resources, forcing the hospital is turning to the public for help.
Every year, the hospital treats 400 premature babies in its NICU.
Founded nearly 40 years ago by Dr. Apostolos Papageorgiou sees exceptional babies born every day, including one recently that was only 450 grams – or exactly one pound.
With increasing numbers of premature babies being born and saved, there's a greater need for incubators.
“The doctors and nurses and doctors can work around the baby and once we're done, (the incubator) closes with the touch of a button,” said Papageorgiou, who is head of the NICU.
“You don't have to move the babies from one place to another. They are extremely sensitive to bleeding and in particular bleeding of the brain, and any movement can add risk factor.”
The unit has nine new incubators and needs to buy at least three more.
For that, Papageorgiou can count on the help of former patient Angelo Rizzolo.
“Very few at the time that Angelo was born were surviving. He's one of our prides,” said Papageorgiou.
Over the years, Rizzolo and his family have helped raise funds for the NICU. They’re hoping this year's AUTO MODA fashion show fundraiser will raise at least $60,000, enough to buy one incubator.
“You see babies that are even smaller than I was, and you see what you're raising money for,” said Rizzolo. “To see these babies grow over time is really amazing.”
That’s encouraging for new mom Venus Babalis. Who was not even six months pregnant when her daughter Faye Olivia was born.
After 10 weeks in neo-natal care, she's finally strong enough to be held.
“She was very sensitive so I couldn't touch her too much,” she said. “But now, this is amazing. I look forward to taking her home.”