Born: March 23, 2016, 24 weeks
Weight at birth: 750 grams
NICU stay: 127 days
Sarah and Lorenzo Sousa were happily expecting their second child. Sarah Sousa was 24 weeks pregnant when she woke up at 1 a.m. on March 23, 2016, with labour pains.
Lorenzo bundled her into the car and started for the hospital. But Sarah could feel the baby’s arrival was urgent. They called 911, and an ambulance got Sarah to the hospital just in time. She was 10 centimetres dilated, and had an infection.
“There was nothing they could do to stop her from coming,” said Sarah. “The doctors told us that the baby’s chance of survival was not good, as at that stage the lungs were not yet developed enough for the baby to breathe on its own. They informed us about all the perils facing premature babies.”
At 4:46 a.m., Avalina was born, weighing only 750 grams. She was so small, so fragile and so sick. She was placed in an incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and separated from her parents by tubes and wires. This tiny little soul was fighting for her life, all by herself. But she persevered, achieving milestone after milestone, until she was healthy enough to go home to her mom, dad and big sister, Olivia.
“After 127 days, we brought our sweet baby home,” said Sarah. “Our incredible journey would not have been possible without the support of the amazing NICU doctors, nurses and staff at The Ottawa Hospital who go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of the smallest lives who enter this world too early. Our precious Avalina is a testament to their skill, commitment and compassion.”
The Ottawa Hospital is renovating its current NICU facilities at the General Campus to give each baby a separate room. This allows caregivers to individualize each small patient’s environment and provide a family-centric model of care that will also include technology and equipment updates.
A new NICU is critical for babies like Avalina to receive the best, most up-to-date treatments developed at The Ottawa Hospital. This helps give prematurely born babies the best chance at surviving, thriving and growing up.