March of Dimes through our NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City is providing parents with critically ill newborns a moment to make holiday memories with their little ones. March of Dimes and Saint Luke’s NICU staff volunteers prepared costumes to package these little bundles of joy as the “precious gifts” they truly represent to their families. Professional photographers (who once were parents of NICU babies themselves) will volunteer their services to capture images of the tiny “gifts” in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, December 15, 2016. The photos will be provided to Saint Luke’s NICU parents as a keepsake, courtesy of the March of Dimes.
In addition to the photos, families will receive commemorative keepsakes, including a hand crocheted snowman or Santa bag filled with candy, a handmade holiday card featuring their baby’s unique footprint, a holiday board book that families can read together, and a handmade stocking. Families celebrating Christmas will have an opportunity for Santa to be included in their baby’s photo (portrayed by a very special Saint Luke’s security guard), while families celebrating Kwanzaa and Hanukah will also have holiday specific options for photography and commemorative keepsakes.
Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain. Events such as this help provide some normalcy for families as they cope with the stressful circumstances of a premature birth. Babies in the NICU may have been born too small, too soon, or with a medical condition that requires intensive care. Throughout the NICU experience, parents can be involved in their baby’s care in a variety of important ways. The March of Dimes has developed the NICU Family Support program to help support NICU families during their baby’s time in the NICU, empowering them to assist in the care of their child. The program also educates NICU staff about the best ways to support babies, families, and each other.
In the United States, about 380,000 babies are born too soon each year – that’s 1 in 10. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk for lifelong disabilities including breathing problems, vision loss, cerebral palsy, and intellectual delays.
March of Dimes is setting the gold standard at our nationwide network of five Prematurity Research Centers, where about 200 of the brightest minds are collaborating to create major breakthroughs in prematurity. By working together, March of Dimes-funded scientists and researchers are finding answers to the unknown causes of premature birth.