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A specialized neonatal
intensive care unit gives
micro-preemies the chance
to survive – and thrive

Photo of Arjan

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Kriti was 24 weeks pregnant when she took a taxi to her local hospital with unexplained pain.

When doctors realized she was in fact in pre-term labour, Kriti’s pregnancy suddenly became high-risk “I was told it was an emergency, but that my hospital wasn’t equipped to handle it,” recalls Kriti, whose husband Navendu and three-year-old son Angad were back at home.

Kriti’s was told her best chance for a safe delivery would be at Sunnybrook, home to the most advanced neonatal intensive care unit in the province, which specializes in caring for micro-preemies; babies born before 26 weeks of gestation.

Arjan in Sunnybrook's neonatal intensive care unit. (Photograph by Ron Haviv)

Delivering expert care

Arjan came into the world a fighter, though he was born weighing only 710 grams (a little over one and a half pounds). More than 4,000 babies are delivered at Sunnybrook every year, and its neonatal intensive care unit treats almost 600 infants just like Arjan, each weighing less than three pounds. These tiny patients risk serious complications and disease.

“Sunnybrook took care of me, so I could take of my baby,” says Kriti, recalling the earliest days her son spent gaining strength at Sunnybrook’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Her husband looks at a photo taken during that time where he is holding Arjan close to his heart in therapeutic skin-to-skin contact. “The photo is a hard-hitting reminder of the hope, and hopelessness, we felt every day having a baby in the NICU,” says Navendu. “We wanted to run away, and stay, at the same time.”

As the weeks passed by Arjan grew stronger, and Kriti did, too. “With each new milestone that Arjan hit, we were told his odds of survival kept increasing,” says Kriti.

Finally, the happy news that Arjan was ready to leave Sunnybrook.

A year later, Arjan and Navendu at home. (Photograph by Kevin Van Paassen)

Making families whole

In February Arjan celebrated his first birthday. He is a healthy bouncing baby boy who talks animatedly.

His favourite word? “Angad,” which he yells gleefully the minute his big brother comes home from school.

“There is so much joy and wonderful noise each day,” says Kriti. “Our lives are content and our family is complete. Thank you, Sunnybrook.”

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