Parents of neonatal babies reunite with doctors

December 4, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A special ceremony is shining a light, literally, on high risk birth. Hundreds of families gathered for a tree lighting ceremony at Columbus Regional Medical Center Friday.  It honors babies that started out in intensive care.

Doctors at Columbus Regional know it's a very memorable and scary time in a parent's life. "They worry about their baby's survival, every single day, and what's the doctor going to tell me next time and when the phone rings, am I going to be told my baby's not going to make it," Peter Resnick, a neo-natal physician said.

Hospital staff reunited with parents of tiny patients like 15-month old Carly Joe Head, a product of the hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit. "We found out we were having a girl. We were really excited long story short - she came early," Jody Head, her father said.

Carly Joe was 26 weeks old when she was delivered. Physicians closely monitored her in intensive care for more than eighty days, before she was released. "She had sleep apnea, she would stop breathing, her heart rate at times would stop," Head said.

Doctors say the care offered to premature babies like Carly Joe is rapidly advancing. "Over the last five or ten years, we've allowed more and more babies to survive," said Dr. Resnick.

Even babies born in mid term have a lasting chance of survival.  "Generally the earliest surviving gestation is 23 weeks gestation, and actually a full pregnancy is 37 to 40 weeks.  So your talking 14 weeks early," Dr. Resnick said.

Though not all are success stories, there's a lot to celebrate. "She's just as rambunctious as any 1 year old," Head said about his daughter one year later. The hospital's Christmas tree honors it's neo-natal intensive care unit. There are 2500 lights, each representing a baby that's been through the NIC unit at Columbus Regional.