Former preemies share giggles, parents share memories at annual NICU Grad Party


Former preemies and their families and friends enjoyed the magic of this year’s NICU Grad Party on Sunday, Sept. 21, sharing moving stories of time spent in the neonatal intensive care unit, lining up to pet furry friends at the petting zoo, hear Violet the Clown’s latest antics and eat plenty of tasty treats.

Former NICU mom Fahira Orellana was so excited about the event that she planned a special outfit for her 2-year-old son Eddy — he was dressed as doctor, complete with blue scrubs, a stethoscope and a “doctor-in-training” logo. Now a healthy and happy toddler, you would never guess he was born at 29 weeks at a mere 2 pounds, 6 ounces, spent four months in the NICU and has had two surgeries.

“I cannot ever repay what the doctors and nurses at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital did for my son,” Fahira said.

Parents weren’t the only ones jazzed for the event. Nurse Roberta Harryman – co-chair and Grad Party maven – and nurse Barbara Boyington have soft spots in their hearts for this annual party. “Said Roberta, “I love seeing the NICU families come back with their healthy children. It’s a great return for our work.” The dynamic duo has been taking care of NICU preemies for more than 30 years.

“This reunion is incredibly significant for our patient families,” said William Benitz, MD, chief of neonatology and leader of the team that provides extraordinary care for approximately 1,500 preemies every year.

“NICU families experience an emotional roller coaster during the first days and weeks of their child’s life,” added Benitz, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the Stanford School of Medicine. “However, when they are able to meet with other families that have been through a similar experience, it provides a wonderful level of comfort — and a bond that will connect them forever.”

Discover more about our Johnson Pregnancy and Newborn Center.


3 Responses to “Former preemies share giggles, parents share memories at annual NICU Grad Party”

  1. Corinne Burke

    I believe my husband threw away our invite this year and I did not write down the date. Can you please let me know.
    Thank you
    Corinne Burke (mom of Dempsey)


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