UCONN Health Center Helps Parents of Premature Babies

Mary Ntiri of Manhattan treasures the time she spends with her young son, William, who she calls Cookie.

"He's almost always alert," Mary said.

Cookie has come a long way.  While visiting friends in Connecticut back in June, Mary who lives in New York City, delivered Cookie 15 weeks early.  Doctors told he had a 50-50 chance of surviving.

"He was lying with his arms out and I put  my finger in his palm and he tried to grab onto it.  That's when I knew, I just knew hew as going to be alright.  It was going to be a rough road but he was going to be alright,"  Mary said.

So far Cookie has spent twelve weeks in the hospital.  First he was in the UCONN Health Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  He has since graduated to the special care wing.

He has grown from one pound, seven ounces to nearly five pounds.

"Cookie is almost a cupcake," Mary said.

The ordeal has been made much easier by the help of the UCONN Health Center Auxiliary

"We wanted to be able to help anyone in that situation all of us haven't been there at one point in our lives.  It's just a good way to handle helping people," said Irene Engel, Auxiliary member.

The Health Center Auxiliary has set up a special unit at neighboring Homewood Suites.  It's a place for parents of preemies to stay for free while their babies are cared for at the health center.

"We've got two families in at the moment in the unit and it has not been empty since the day we opened it," said Irene.

The program started July 1st.  Mary was the first guest.

"Having to pay for a hotel and the gas prices that time I couldn't have imagined how I would have been able to get through it unscathed," she said.
"It's been wonderful.  Absolutely wonderful.  I look forward to the days I get to stay here."

She hopes not to need the help much longer.  Doctors are optimistic that Cookie will be able to go home within the month.

"I can't wait.  I think it's going to be absolutely delicious to have Cookie home.  I can't wait!" Mary said.

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