KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Children’s Mercy Hospital is taking strides to care for the smallest premature babies.
They have added a new unit specially designed for the most vulnerable preemies who require the most critical care to not only to survive, but ensure their quality of life into adolescence and adulthood.
It’s called “The Small Baby Unit” and it’s equipped with a specialized team trained to handle the issues such babies face.
Born at just over 24 weeks, twins Arlo and Ackley Parker came into this world each weighing barely over a pound.
Danielle Parker, their mother, said she was only 12 weeks along in her pregnancy when she was told there would be complications.
“It was 17 weeks when we started seeing changes in amniotic fluid,” she said. “Then, as we got closer to 21 weeks, we were diagnosed with twin to twin transfusion syndrome.”
It is a serious disorder that occurs in identical twins who share a placenta. It results in one baby receiving more blood flow, while the other baby receives too little.
“So, it wasn’t, it wasn’t good news,” said David Parker, their father.
Dr. Adebayo Oshodi works in The Small Baby Unit at Children’s Mercy. The Parkers credit the new unit as the reason their once very vulnerable babies are now doing well.
“Now, it’s been several weeks since their birth and they have peeled away little by little of all of the support that they’ve needed,” Oshodi said. “It’s been a great thing just watching them grow.”
“The group of people that make up the team in The Small Baby Unit are a more disciplinary group,” Oshodi said.
It includes physicians, nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners and respiratory therapists who’ve all gone through additional specialized training.
The babies they see are typically born at 29 weeks or less. They typically weigh less than 2.2 pounds and their systems aren’t ready for the world outside the womb.
“Once we got in there and saw everything, that’s when the relief came over,” Danielle Parker said. “Of course, we still had worries but to know that there is a team there that’s dedicated to small babies, that was relieving.”
Today, the Parker twins have graduated out of The Small Baby Unit and are in the regular NICU.
Though they are still several months from being able to go home for the first time, their parents said they are confident the twins are getting what they need to be healthy.
“Right now, our goals are to take it easy, sleep, grow and, like I said, just take it day by day,” their mother said.
Over the last five years, Children’s Mercy has admitted an average of about two of these preemies a month. While that’s a small percentage of NICU patients, they stay hospitalized the longest and require the most intense care.