As landmarks all around the world were lighting up in purple on Monday to help raise awareness for the fourth annual World Prematurity Day, six local mothers did their part to mark the day.
The moms, who all gave birth to premature babies within the last year at Victoria General Hospital, hosted and paid for a luncheon to thank staff in the neonatal intensive care unit, and to show support for the families with infants currently in hospital.
“It was wonderful for them to acknowledge us the way that they did,” said Joanne Laforce, a registered nurse in the unit for 27 years. “We look at them as family as well. We bond with the parents and we bond with the babies. We never go into nursing expecting recognition, and to know that they feel about us the same way we feel about them is just wonderful.”
Nearly 500 babies were admitted to VGH’s neonatal intensive care unit last year, and of those, about 90 were born very premature at less than 32 weeks, requiring round-the-clock specialized care. There are 19 premature babies at VGH right now, and though the job is challenging, it also has its great rewards, Laforce said.
“We see them when they’re vulnerable and fragile. When they defy the odds and get to go home, it’s really rewarding.”
World Prematurity Day aims to raise awareness of premature births, which happen in one of 10 pregnancies worldwide. Premature babies may face learning disabilities, or suffer from vision or hearing problems later on.
Globally, pre-term births are the leading cause of death in children under five, according to the World Health Organization.