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UTMB To Welcome Back Preemie Patients at Annual NICU Reunion

Born at mere one pound and 14 ounces in 1996, Desiree Washington entered the world barely 29 weeks old at the University of Texas Medical Branch. With her lungs still developing, she spent the first 3 months of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  

“Beside all the machines and medical devices, I was connected to, my parents also provide me the Kangaroo therapy,” Washington said about the skin-to-skin contact therapy her parents took turns to participate in in those early months of her life, “the warmth, nurture and security kept me alive.” 

Fast forward to 2023, that fragile life grew into a beacon of hope herself and returned to the very hospital her journey began. Not as a patient this time, but a patient representative, part of the valued team members of UTMB. 

“It’s surreal to walk these halls at UTMB now knowing I spent the first months of my life here, fighting to survive while being taken care of by so many nurses and doctors here,” said Washington, “it’s almost a full circle, so different but in the best way.” 

Washington will join many former patients and their families this Saturday at UTMB’s annual NICU preemie reunion event. Doctors, nurses, and volunteers who once took care of these patients will also be at this reunion. 

“Countless miracles happen at the NICU, but every single time we see former patients come back growing and thriving, it is equally special and beautiful, said Dr. María E. Franco-Fuenmayor, assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UTMB. “Every year we look forward to reuniting with our NICU patients and reminiscing all the wonderful memories in this incredible journey.”  

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will host the NICU Family Reunion on Saturday April 27. The event will feature games, music, crafts and provide an opportunity for the children and their families to be reunited with the UTMB staff members who provided care while they were hospitalized during the early months of life. 

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