Over 500 families and staff celebrate and give thanks at NICU “Grad Party”
<0> Lucile Packard Children’s HospitalRobert Dicks, 650-387-7500 </0>
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital:
Sunday, September 23, 2pm-5pmDean’s Lawn at the School of Medicine
Bonded at the most fragile moment of their lives, over 500 kids, families and staff will hold a special reunion this Sunday at the 30 annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit “Grad Party” at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. It’s an emotional event that brings together children of all ages, born days, weeks or even months before their due date, with the heroes who provided their lifesaving care.
Nurse Roberta Harryman, co-chair and Grad Party guru along with nurse Barbara Boyington, has been taking care of NICU preemies for 29 years. She said Sunday’s party holds a special spot on the calendar. “It’s really an extraordinary day,” said Harryman. “Everyone on our team is so happy to see how the babies they cared for are thriving, especially those attending for the first time.”
That list includes 11-month-old Aiden Kuwayti of Palo Alto, whose mom Shannon was expecting a normal arrival a year ago. But Aiden had a sudden entry into the world on October 25, 10 weeks ahead of schedule. “We were shocked when Aiden came early,” said Shannon. “Realizing your baby is so small and fragile and facing so many problems is unbelievably scary. But the NICU care was wonderful and he’s doing great now.” Shannon can’t wait to reunite Aiden with the nurses, doctors and therapists who made going home possible.
The guest list is growing. Some years the Grad Party is global, with families attending from as far away as South America. There’s plenty of entertainment, including face painting, clowns, a magician, petting zoo and more. “But it’s not just an afternoon of fun,” said Harryman. “It’s really an afternoon of thanks for both the staff and families. The families are thankful for the care we provided, and we’re thankful to share in their happiness.” And it won’t be just babies, children and teens. Some of the grads are now adults with their own babies.
“It’s basically a reunion and it means so much to everyone,” said William Benitz, MD, chief of neonatology and leader of a team that provides nationally recognized care for approximately 1200 of the more than 4500 babies born at Packard Children’s each year. “The emotional rollercoaster these families endured in the first days and weeks of their child’s life is something that not everyone can grasp. But being with others who have been through the same experience creates a bond that will connect them forever.”
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford is an internationally recognized 311-bed hospital, research center and leading regional medical network providing the full complement of services for the health of children and expectant mothers. In partnership with the Stanford University School of Medicine, our world-class doctors and nurses deliver innovative, family-centered care in every pediatric and obstetric specialty, tailored to every patient. Packard Children’s is annually ranked as one of the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by and is the only Northern California children’s hospital with specialty programs ranked in the Top 10. Learn more about us at and about our continuing growth at . Like us on , watch us on and follow us on .
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