Posted: April 27, 2018
National Superhero Day is Saturday and it's a day to honor the real-life, everyday heroes.
The Allegheny Health Network is celebrating by honoring its tiniest superheroes.
Nurses at West Penn Hospital dressed the brave babies in its neonatal intensive care unit in superhero capes.
RELATED HEADLINE: Superhero window washers surprise patients at Children's Hospital
The capes show their parents and caregivers that their tiny bodies pack a big punch and that they are amazing fighters.
To protect, serve and cuddle. That’s the new mantra for police officers in Aurora, Colorado.
Aurora Police Department officers stepped in to help a newborn baby who was born premature at 29 weeks, KGW reported.
Axel Winch lived at Children’s Hospital Colorado neonatal intensive care unit for weeks starting Aug. 1 as doctors treated genetic and his physical issues.
Axel has had surgeries and other procedures to diagnose all that is wrong.
“Axel has died in our arms multiple times,” Axel’s father Adam told KGW.
Over the weeks, Axel’s parents had to eventually go back to work. His mother is a police officer and his father is a former officer who owns a business.
“Leaving is heartbreaking,” Melissa Winch told KGW. “The first time we left, I cried not all the way home, but (the) majority of the way home. It’s terrible.”
Their brothers in blue stepped in to help.
Aurora police had almost 20 officers sign up for the cuddle watch to hold Axel during the times his parents weren’t able to be at the NICU.
The cuddle crew also raised money for the family, visited with them and even opened their homes to the Winch family, KGW reported.
Axel was recently discharged and went home for the first time.
“We don’t know what the future holds yet, but right now he’s happy and healthy for us,” the Winchs said.
Axel’s release has proven to be a slight problem for his law enforcement extended family. They’re arms are empty now and are looking for another baby to hold.
“We almost need to set up a cuddle watch for Children’s Hospital, just to give the opportunity to come in and take care of the little ones,” Sgt. Mike Pitrusu told KGW.
Axel is also missing his uniformed caregivers.
“They’ve kind of spoiled our boy now,” Melissa told KGW. “He just wants to be held all the time now.”
A man affectionately known as “ICU Grandpa” became internet famous this week after Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta posted a picture of him on its Facebook page Wednesday evening.
“This photo was taken by baby Logan’s mom as she fought back happy tears,” the post said. “Logan has been in our hospital for six weeks. Every night, his mom goes home to be with his big sister. Every morning, she drives back to Scottish Rite feeling ‘anxious that he’s been missing his mommy.’”
WSB spoke with Logan’s mother, MaryBeth Brulotte, who CHOA said held back happy tears ash she took the photo.
“He had such a kind spirit,” Brulotte said.
David Deutchman visits the hospital’s pediatric and neonatal intensive care units to hold babies whose parents can’t be with them that day, and has done so for 12 years, according to CHOA.
“On Tuesdays, he visits the PICU to hold babies whose parents can’t be with them that day. On Thursdays, he makes rounds in the NICU,” the post said.
The Facebook post had been liked more than 153,000 times and shared more than 44,000 times by Friday afternoon.
Multiple news outlets wrote about Deutchman, and on Friday, CHOA posted a video of Deutchman’s visits. The grandpa can be heard softly singing “You are My Sunshine” to a baby.
“Sometimes I get puked on, I get peed on. It’s great,” he says in the video.
Deutchman says his male friends ask why he makes the visits.
“They just don’t get it, the kind of reward you can get from holding a baby like this,” he said.
The hospital said Deutchman began volunteering after he retired from working in international business marketing. He has two daughters and two grandchildren, ages 19 and 21.
"It touched my heart,” Brulotte said of Deutchman’s visit with her son. “I’m so glad that he's getting the recognition he deserves.”
A baby this time of year is the best holiday present parents can get, and a hospital in Kansas City, Missouri is documenting it for the growing families.
With help from photographers from Faces You Love Photography, Sally Morrow Photography and Schaumburg Photography and the March of Dimes, volunteers covered newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Luke's Hospital with a small felt blanket and bow to "wrap" the babies as presents.
Santa delivered an additional present to each family. They all received a "Twas a Night Before Christmas" card that was decorated with a mouse made out of their child's footprint, a small hand-made Santa bag filled with candy, a crocheted Santa hat or bow cap and a book for the family to read together.>> Read more trending stories
Families who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were given holiday-appropriate gifts also.
The photographers know what it is like to be in the parents' shoes. They all had newborns who spent time in the NICU when their babies were born.
"The holidays can be an especially emotional time for families in the NICU," Michelle Manuel told ABC News. "Babies here are usually born premature or sick and they may spend weeks or months growing healthy enough to go home. So providing these special families with an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a memorial way allows them a sense of normalcy, and an opportunity to celebrate their babies' first milestones - even in the hospital - which is what every family wants to do!"
"Being a NICU parent is really tough. We didn't quite understand how tough it would be until we got here. It's a little isolating and it's sad. And you're concerned about the health of your baby...But we know this is the absolute best place for them, and they're being so well cared for," Katilyn Bunch told ABC News.
The buzzing and beeping of technology inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) help care for the tiniest of patients. Now, a local hospital is showing how the power of human touch can lead to a speedier recovery.
FOX25 visited with volunteers in the Baby Cuddler Program at South Shore Hospital to see how simple actions can have far-reaching results.
Dotty MacDonald says she looks forward to her volunteer day at the South Shore Hospital more than any other day of the week.>> Read more trending stories
“It's wonderful to be in the position that you can sit and hold them,” MacDonald explained. “Nurses don't have the time to sit and hold the babies all day long."
The babies are from the hospitals special care nursery. Most of them were born premature and were recently transferred from the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU. They're here to “grow and feed" until they have enough strength to go home.
"Some of our babies stay five days, some are here for three or four months." Said Mary Tenney, Nursing Practice Coordinator at South Shore Hospital
When the babies are here long term, it's hard for working parents to be here round the clock. That's where the cuddlers come in.
"A baby that's cuddled, research has shown that it calms them, it helps them manage stress better, if they're sleeping better and managing stress better it improves brain growth”
"They're just so sweet. They just want you to hold them. The tighter you hold them, the more you pat them, the happier they are," said Patty Birsner, a volunteer at South Shore Hospital.
Volunteers go through training and a background check to get the coveted position. The cuddlers are mostly retired and have some sort of medical background. Some of the infants at the hospital are very fragile.
"I walk out sometimes with a lump in my throat," said Birsner.
It's therapeutic for the babies and the cuddlers and provides parents peace of mind that their babies are getting the attention they deserve.
"Sometimes I sit here as much as two hours at a time with a baby," MacDonald said.
The “baby cuddler” program is full and no longer accepting applications, but hospital leaders tell us there are many other programs still in need of volunteers.
Some babies can stay in a neonatal intensive care unit for many months, but it doesn't mean the newborns have to miss Christmas.
>> Read more trending stories
At WellStar Atlanta Medical Center's NICU, Santa visited with 19 families and their babies earlier this month. Many of the infants were born premature, often with respiratory issues or infections, said Heidi Squires, who works with March of Dimes at the hospital as the NICU family support program coordinator.
Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center is the only hospital in metro Atlanta that partners with the March of Dimes to provide comfort and care to families while their babies are in the hospital, Squires said.
This is the second year the hospital has hosted the event, Squires said. Santa's visit was put on with help from hospital volunteers, and families received copies of the photos.
All photos in the slideshow below were provided by Claire Elise Photography.
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Hospitalized babies can pull at the heart strings of even the most courageous among us.
When babies are sick or born prematurely, the families of these children are under enormous emotional and, often, financial pressure.
Some 380,000 babies, or one in every 10, are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States every year, the March of Dimes estimated. Most end up in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the March of Dimes said.
In Kansas City, Missouri the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital is aware of the hardships parents face when their babies are hospitalized. That’s why they planned a special Valentine’s Day celebration in recent years.
The staff and volunteers, calling it a “special celebration of love,” assembled tiny knit caps with hearts that each baby in their care will wear for a special Valentine’s Day photo shoot. They’re also making baby footprint valentines for the parents.
“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” March of Dimes NICU Family Support coordinator, Rebecca Keunen said in a press release.
>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news
The nonprofit developed the NICU Family Support program to help families while their babies are in the intensive care unit, but even when these babies leave the hospital, they often face serious health challenges. The March of Dimes said these children are at higher risks for lifelong disabilities, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.
The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that focuses on pregnancy, baby health and conducts research into premature births.
They are some of the smallest fighters, but they, and their parents, are heroes in their own right.
And to honor the children being taken care of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Allegheny Health network in Pittsburgh, the newborns got their own super hero capes in honor of National Superhero Day.
The national observation was founded to honor superheroes -- both those from fantasy like Captain America and those in real life, like the nation’s military and first responders.
National Superhero Day is celebrated on April 28.
The neonatal intensive care unit at a Missouri hospital is helping mothers and their newborns mark Mother’s Day.
St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, with the help of the March of Dimes, is providing families of NICU babies with photos of the moms and babies in the middle of skin-to-skin bonding, also called kangaroo care.
The technique helps cement the bond between mother and baby. It also helps both mom and baby by lessening stress for both, and helps babies with weight gain and brain development.
For more on the March of Dimes, click here.
They have beaten the odds and now have their whole lives ahead of them.
Babies who lived their first days and months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at CaroMont Regional Medical Center now have a graduation of sorts.
The NICU staff have been marking the babies’ releases with a “graduation” ceremony and photo shoot complete with graduation caps, BuzzFeed reported.
The ceremony was the brainchild of Melissa Jordan, a neonatal nurse at CaroMont, who wanted to mark the day of release for a baby who had been in her care for 62 days. She got the idea from a onesie that the baby’s parents brought for their child’s big day. The outfit said NICU grad. Jordan then went home and made her first graduation cap out of construction paper. The staff sent the baby home with a sendoff of singing and dancing before giving him his mortarboard. Jordan wanted to do that for all families whose children had been in her care, BuzzFeed reported.
That was 6 months ago.
Each cap now is made from foam sheets inscribed with the number of days a baby has been in intensive care and “a whole lifetime in front of me.”
Nurses contacted Bella Baby Photography, who takes photos of all babies before they leave the hospital, to photograph the graduations. Bella Baby agreed and decided to give the photos to the new families for free.
So far, 14 babies have had their graduation ceremony, including three sets of twins, BuzzFeed reported.
Instead of scary, some children are adorable this Halloween.
The smallest of babies and their parents are celebrating the holiday with tiny sized costumes.
“Every day, a child in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” said Rebecca Keunen, March of Dimes/NICU family support coordinator at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
The March of Dimes is helping families remember their babies’ the first Halloween with costumes and photo opportunities.
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