Dozens of families, including Jordan (left to right), Lincoln, Easton and Aissa Blanchard, attended the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s 33rd annual reunion party for graduates of the unit at Jeneece Place at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Dozens of families, including Jordan (left to right), Lincoln, Easton and Aissa Blanchard, attended the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s 33rd annual reunion party for graduates of the unit at Jeneece Place at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Baby reunion party brings laughter, smiles to VGH

Event gives families, staff in neonatal intensive care unit chance to reconnect

Lincoln and Easton Blanchard have gone through hell and back again – and they’re just over one year old.

The twins were born 12 weeks premature and required multiple surgeries to fix a handful of medical problems. But their parents, Aissa and Jordan, believe their twins are alive thanks to the hard work and dedication of nurses and staff at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Victoria General Hospital.

Thursday, the Blanchard’s brought their twins back to the hospital – this time to celebrate with those who helped keep them alive. They were one of dozens of families who gathered at Jencee Place at VGH for the NICU’s 33rd annual reunion party for graduates of the unit. Thursday’s reunion, which included appearances by superheroes Batman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman, gave families and the staff who cared for the infants the chance to reconnect.

“This is such an important event for us because … it allows the staff who worked really hard and invested a lot of emotion and energy to these families to see how well they’re doing. It’s a really happy, joyful event,” said Gillian Kozinka, a long-time neonatal nurse and current manager of neonatal and perinatal services.

But it hasn’t always been a time of celebration for many families, including Aissa and Jordan. When they first found out they were pregnant, they were ecstatic. Aissa always wanted to be a mother, and after several months of consultations for in vitro fertilization, their dreams of having children were finally coming true. But having twins also meant a higher chance they would be born premature.

The couple had just moved to a new home in Nanaimo when the twins were born via C-section on July 9, 2016 – 12 weeks early. Within a couple of hours Lincoln and Easton were flown to the neonatal care unit at VGH and placed in incubators.

“It’s hard emotionally and physically. Our life was turned upside down and shook,” Aissa said.

The newborns had a number hurdles to jump through in the weeks following their birth. Easton was born with a heart murmur that continued to grow, making it difficult to breathe and eat, that eventually required surgery. Shortly after, both twins, who only weighed three to four pounds, had a double hernia, which caused their intestines to pass into their scrotum and had to be surgically moved back up.

Finally after spending more than 70 days in the neonatal care unit, Aissa and Jordan were able to take their babies home for the first time.

“They’re really good babies. We’re so blessed. Some people say it’s because we’ve been through hell and back with them already that of course they’re going to be good now,” laughed Aissa.

Lincoln and Easton are not alone. Between 2,500 and 3,500 babies are born in Victoria every year, of which 450 to 550 will receive care from a specialized medical and nursing team at the neonatal unit at Victoria General.

Bill Regier’s daughter, Violet, was one of those babies. Violet was born premature and spent two months in the neonatal care unit because she had problems going to the washroom and feeding. Reiger said the nurses were incredibly patient and made them feel at home.

“Coming here acknowledges that these people are doing such good work for children,” Regier said of the reunion party. “In the world we live in these days, to have something like this is fantastic.”

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

Dozens of families attended the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s 33rd annual reunion party for graduates of the unit at Jeneece Place at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Dozens of families attended the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s 33rd annual reunion party for graduates of the unit at Jeneece Place at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Victoria General HospitalView Royal

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A project on McCallum Road will add 227 residential units to Langford. (Photo courtesy of Highstreet Ventures)
Residential project slated for McCallum Road in Langford

Six-storey development will be built to highest energy-efficiency standards

The public will start to weigh in next month on the possible future uses of Oak Bay Lodge. In the meantime, a request to the province by the City of Victoria to intervene and allow use of at least a portion of the closed facility as temporary shelter space awaits an answer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment planning continues, request for temporary use awaits answer

Public consultation on future of CRD-owned site begins next month

Volunteer Anette Akouri is part of a vital service that connects clients to help them be less vulernable. (Saanich Volunteer Services Society)
Saanich volunteers up the friendship calls, grocery deliveries during pandemic

Saanich Volunteer Services Society helping vulnerable residents stay happy, healthy

Wild Wise Sooke is pushing to get local waste management companies to hop on board to provide bear-resistant bins as an option for residents. On Nov. 23, Sooke council voted to write a letter of support for Wild Wise to send to companies such as GFL Environmental Inc. and Sooke Disposal Ltd. (Black Press Media file photo)
Wild Wise Sooke continues push for bear-resistant bins as option for residents

Bins could cost anywhere from $150 to $300 or more, according to 2019 study

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Lake Trail Middle School in Courtenay has closed again due to a threat Friday (Dec 4). File photo
Island middle school closed for the second time in a week due to threat

On Nov. 26, Lake Trail Middle School was closed for a day while a similar incident occurred.

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

Most Read