PANAMA CITY, Fla. — It’s a birthday celebration for a hospital unit where birthdays often come early; the neo-natal intensive care unit, celebrating five years of service.
“A baby that’s born prematurely basically depends on all of our support in order to maintain life,” said Dr. Antonio Pena, the NICU’s Medical Director.
Dr. Pena was there five years ago, when one of those babies arrived. The baby’s mother, Kiesha Small, remembers the day like it was yesterday.
“I just knew, God wouldn’t put her in my life to take her from us like that,” she said.
Her baby was born at twenty-four weeks. She weighed only about one pound.
“Everything goes through your mind when you’re sitting there watching your child fight,” said Small.
She was Gulf Coast Regional NICU’s first patient. Nurses monitored her for nights on end; working towards a good outcome, but prepared for the worst.
“There was a 20% chance that the baby was not going to make it,” said Dr. Pena.
“I would just literally sit there and just stare at that computer screen and watch her vital signs,” said Jennifer Smith, a nurse on duty at the time.
The baby stayed there for months, fighting; every new day was a miracle.
That was five years ago. Today, that baby is now a healthy and very happy five year old. You can probably guess what her name is.
“She’s a miracle baby, so we just called her Miracle,” said Small.
Miracle was at Gulf Coast Regional on Wednesday to share her birthday, and lots of cake, with the people that called her a “miracle” five years ago.
“It just makes you want to cry when you see how perfect she looks,” said Terri Ellis, another nurse who cared for Miracle.
“It just puts it all into perspective,” said Dr. Pena. “It makes my job incredible.”
Small says she couldn’t be more grateful for their help, and that Miracle is a joy to be around.
“She doesn’t know what she went through,” said Small. “But she’s still, she’s just… she’s good. You have to meet her.”
All birthdays are special, but this one means just a little more; evidence that ‘Miracles’ really do happen.