Jul 28, 2012 9:29 PM by Siera Santos,

Premature babies reunite to thank the staff who saved their lives

Of the 5,000 babies born each year at Memorial Hospital, more than 500 are born prematurely and must receive special care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Saturday morning, graduates of all ages from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were reunited for the 31st "Celebration of Life" event. Familes had a chance to reunite with the nurses and doctors who helped save their childrens' lives.

Eighteen-month-old Wesley Winters arrived a month ahead of schedule. His mother, Chantelle, says she was "absolutely petrified that he wasn't going to make it." He spent three weeks in the NICU at Memorial Hospital.

For Wesley's father Eric Winter, the reunion is an emotional experience.

"I guess you realize maybe your baby won't live. Maybe your wife won't live and it probably hit me afterwards," Eric Winter says.

It's the one time every year NICU success stories like baby Wesley get to show off their progress to the medical staff.

"Ultimately at the end of the day, what we want for our kids is that they're going to go home and be as healthy as they can be and lead long, successful fulfilling lives," says Dr. Bob Kylie.

Dr. Kylie is like a rockstar at the reunion. A steady stream of parents and kids wait their turn to thank him.

"It feels really good because it's why I went into medicine and why I went into this field because you get back more than you give."



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