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WakeMed's expanded NICU focuses on premature babies

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Semaj was born weighing just under a pound in January. Semaj was born weighing just under a pound in January.

Right now, dozens of families are anxiously watching their premature babies breathe with the help of an incubator rat WakeMed's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Some of them have been there for months now, sleeping and eating there around the clock. But thanks to a newly expanded unit, WakeMed is making the families feel a little more at home.

Alicia King gave birth to her twins Thomas and William three months too premature and has been by their side since.

When they were born her twins weighed less than two pounds, now they're healthy and gaining weight.

But for Crystal Suber, she's exactly where Alicia King was four months ago. Her son, Semaj, was born weighing just under a pound in January.

"He didn't really look human. He was so small, so tiny. But he's doing good now," Suber said.  

The 2-month-old boy is now surviving with the help of an oxygen device and an incubator.

Semaj sometimes has trouble breathing but periodically his tiny hands move back and forth, showing signs of strength and life.

"I didn't want to lose him. So, I asked them to do everything they could to keep him. They did," said Suber.

All she can do now, is wait.

WakeMed delivers more than 7,500 babies a year. Approximately 600 of them are premature, high risk babies.

They recently expanded the Level IV NICU by 12 beds, bringing the total now to 48 beds. Along with a new design and state-of-the-art upgrades, the new unit introduces "single-room care" for NICU patients. 

This is a significant expansion for a NICU, and WakeMed is the first hospital in the area to now offer private rooms in a NICU setting.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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