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Preemie twins reunite with Sutter NICU doctors, nurses

By From page A5 | September 13, 2012

Twins Mason and Avery Ruiz, 7, of Davis are reunited with Andrew Wertz, M.D., neonatologist and founder of Sutter Memorial Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The boys attended Sutter’s annual NICU reunion to thank the nurses and doctors who helped care for them at birth. Courtesy photo

Davis twins Avery and Mason Ruiz, 7, who spent a combined 300 days in the Sutter Children’s Center neonatal intensive care unit, were reunited with the nurses and doctors who cared for them at a NICU reunion Saturday at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento.

Their mom, Andrea Burnett, was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy at 18 weeks, so doctors promptly put her on bed rest until the twins were born at 25 weeks. Avery, who weighed just 1 pound, 11 ounces, faced severe recurrent lung problems. Mason weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces, and suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage and a brain hemorrhage. Both newborns required surgery to repair a heart condition common in premature babies.

Though Avery and Mason live with some continuing health problems, today they are spirited, happy elementary school students who look forward to the NICU reunion each year.

“It’s always great to see the doctors and nurses who cared for Avery and Mason,” Burnett said. “They were wonderful. The NICU was our home away from home for six months.”

Avery and Mason were among dozens of “graduates” of the acclaimed Sutter Children’s Center NICU who gathered to thank their nurses and doctors for the excellent care they received during the annual NICU reunion on the front lawn of Sutter Memorial Hospital in East Sacramento.

Many of these children were born preemies with extremely low birth weight, while others had heart conditions and other defects and required surgery as newborns.

The 55-bed Level III NICU is supported by eight board-certified neonatologists, 50 neonatal and pediatric subspecialists, and 150 nurses. Doctors and families from 48 hospitals in 23 counties turn to Sutter’s NICU for advanced, lifesaving care for babies born prematurely or who need special medical care.

The reunion is meaningful to both staff and families, who forge strong bonds during this special, but difficult life experience. More than 300 families from throughout Northern California reunited with staff on Saturday to celebrate life.

Children participated in a variety of activities on Saturday, including face painting, a puppet show, a blow-up slide, games and crafts, a tour of an ambulance and refreshments.

The Sutter Children’s Center, Sacramento is a children’s hospital within Sutter Memorial Hospital, one of the campuses of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. It is affiliated with Sutter Health, a not-for-profit, community-based health system located throughout Northern California. For more information on Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento or the Sutter Children’s Center, visit the website at suttermedicalcenter.org.

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