MEDFORD, Ore.– Hundreds of families gathered at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford Sunday for a ‘Miracle Baby Reunion.’
The event was for families that had babies born preterm at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Families were able to share stories and visit with nurses that helped their children during the delivery.
Many parents describe it as a scary time when going through a preterm delivery. Some parents described having children come four weeks early, eleven weeks early or even more than that.
“It’s kind of a whirlwind that happens and takes you all off-guard, all at once,” said Elizabeth Noyes, supervisor of patient services at Asante’s NICU.
It’s something parents can never prepare for but there are those that can help. On Sunday, dressed in preparation for Halloween, these families came to the hospital to celebrate and see someone special.
Nurse Keri Wu has worked at Asante for the last 33 years. She’s been working in neonatal intensive care units since 1975.
“I was in the army,” said Wu. “I wrote ahead to the head nurse of a hospital and I said, ‘I’m coming. you don’t know me but this is what I want to do.”
Since then, she’s helped so many families at a time they need it most.
“She showed me a video of one of her NICU kids from I think 15 years ago that was 29 weeks and he was doing awesome,” said Ben Ho, a father whose son, Barrett, was born 11 weeks early. “So it gave us a lot of hope and reassurance.”
For Keri, this job is fueled by passion. It’s easy to see why when it shines in the families that she’s helped along the way.
“Nurse Keri is one of the particular ones we come to see every year and we’re excited to be able to see her and get a photo with her,” said Paul Titus who was there with his wife Megan and their six-year-old son Dusty.
“When they come back it’s really a neat thing,” said Wu. “To be able to give someone whose bigger than me a hug and know I had a small part in his or her start.”
With all the fun and games happening, Keri still stands out. It’s because it comes from her heart. But Keri says this road can’t go on forever.
“That’s the big plan – two and half more years to work so every week is a special week,” she said.
She’s not certain what will happen. Retirement may be the answer. But Keri chooses not to dwell on that. She’d rather look back at work of the past 44 years and continue helping others while she still can.
“Day by day,” she said. “But with the comfort of knowing I’ve been a part of a lot of good. That’s a wonderful way to look back on your working career.”