Health staffers, families bond through miracle babies

Dr. Julia Elrod talked and played with her former patients at the 34th Annual Christmas Reunion at Christus Sutton Children’s Medical Center Sunday. Elrod, director of its neonatal intensive care unit, reflected with other doctors and nurses about the recovery and growth of the “miracle babies” who were in attendance.

“It’s a wonderful time to reconnect with babies that we’ve taken care of years ago,” said Elrod. “Some of them are in college and it’s really rewarding to see how well some of them have done, because it’s a tough road for a lot of them.”

The reunion gives families a chance to meet other families as well as reunite with hospital staffers who helped them through delivery and care.

“It’s an opportunity for the families to come back to see the staff, the physicians that cared for their children and for us as staff and physicians to see those children and reinforce what we’re doing,” said Dianna Hill, nurse manager of the neonatal unit.

Dozens of children lined up for arts and crafts and a chance to have a picture taken with Santa Clause, while others waited patiently to get their face painted. Parents connected with one another as heartfelt stories were shared over refreshments that were provided.

Parents Nicole and Chris Schuman, of Shreveport, say they once feared for the life of their eight-month-old daughter, Fallon Schuman.

“At first we were scared she wasn’t going to make it, because she came so early,” said Nicole Schuman. “She was 10 weeks and five days early and 2 pounds, 7 ounces.”

Both attribute the health and recovery of their child to the staff and committed doctors and nurses at the hospital.

The reunion filled the room with laughter and love as children played with their nurses and fellow miracle babies.

“Just to see some of these babies that sometimes we thought might not make it and to see that they are truly doing well and they appreciate what you’ve done for them means a lot,” said Carol Rachal, a teary-eyed nurse practitioner. “Just to be able to take care of their babies is a blessing to us.”

“The nurses and doctors always said she was a fighter, so after the first two days I was confident she was going to make it,” Chris Schuman said.

Maintaining a relationship with the nurses was important, Nicole Schuman said.

“We wanted to keep a relationship with the nurses that helped her,” she said.

Shreveporter Jermenta Thomas kept in contact with the nurses who cared for her daughter, Tymmijerna, now nine months old.

Making trips to the hospital to allow the staff to see Tymmijerna is something Thomas always makes an effort to do, to show her thanks.

“I keep in close contact with one of the nurses,” Thomas said. “We keep in touch through text messages and phone calls, in regards to her care about my child.”

Tymmijerna was premature and what most consider a miracle baby. She was born at 28 weeks, which is considered a critical time not only in the mother’s pregnancy, but with the child’s delivery as well.

“Most babies born at 28 weeks have a low survival rate,” Thomas said.

“I thank God that she did make it and they (doctors and nurses) worked very hard with helping her survive.”