Oprah honors Houston mom's invention for intensive care babies

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Yamile Jackson receieved the 'Standing O-Vation" Award after creating pillows that felt like human hands for babies in NICU

Meet 13-year-old Zachary Jackson. When he was born two months premature he only weighed 2 pounds. Then, Tropical Storm Alison hit and flooded the neonatal intensive care unit where he was living, destroying the incubator he needed to breathe.

"At the time he was born, he had about 80 percent chance of survival," said mom Yamille Jackson. "I was scared because I didn't know how he could survive so little."

During his five month NICU stay, Yamille couldn't always be by Jackson's side.

"The best way to relax a baby is with a mom because that's all they know, the only person they know, the only scent they know," said Yamille

She invented the next best thing. She took an ordinary garden glove filled with sand and slept with it so that it smelled like her. Then she put it with baby Zach.

"About three weeks after Zachary was discharged, the nurses from the NICU called me, and they were like, 'You know those gloves you made for Zach? Can you make them for the rest of the unit?'" Jackson said. "They could see how it helped Zachary, how he was calmer."

Stephen White was one of the parents whose child also used what became known as a Zaky.

"My wife was there 12 hours a day, but at night she had to get rest. Having a product she could place in there and leave her own arms wrapping over our children was so powerful," White said.

Yamille has since sold Zakys to 300 hospitals in 50 countries. Recently, her invention even gained the attention of Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey awarded Yamille the Standing Ovation Award while she was in Houston, along with a $25,000 grant.

Yamille is using it as an opportunity to create more Zakys that will help more children in need.

"I made a promise to Zach and I told him that his pain and his struggle to survive would not be in vain. I made a promise to help babies on his behalf. I'm here because of him. I do my work because of him," Yamille said.


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