OC hospital first with unit dedicated to micro-preemie babies

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Southern California is leading the way in treating the tiniest newborns with the first hospital unit in the United States designed to care for micro-premature babies.

It's called the Small Baby Unit and the Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange is proud to be the first of its kind.

"It's just how we're delivering care, it's in a different method," said Mindy Morris, program coordinator of the unit. "It's a team-based concept, pulling all these teams together."

The team of doctors and nurses work around the clock in conditions that are meant to mimic the womb to help babies born 28 weeks and earlier develop normally.

"We want to really protect their brains and have their brain develop in the way it was meant to in that quiet and dark environment," Morris said.

The SBU opened five years ago, and new data shows babies are not only surviving, they're thriving.

The unit has significantly reduced the rate of chronic lung disease, hospital acquired infections, and reduced the number of infants going home with growth restrictions

Because of its success, hospitals from around the country have sent teams to tour the unit.

The news was welcoming to Taylor Marshall of Anaheim Hills and her new baby Kingston.

"... I'm giving him the best possible chance of survival that he can have and that means more than anything," said Marshall.

Due to health complications, Kristina Evans gave birth to her daughter Parker just 23 weeks and 6 days into her pregnancy. Parker weighed only 1 pound when the family decided to move their micro-preemie to the Small Baby Unit.

Now three years old, Parker just started school and loves to run and play with her sister.

For the families in the SBU and those who've been through it, they said the place is a second home and a constant source of hope.

"For us, it's an absolute blessing," said Evans. "It just reinforces the joy and miracle of life."
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