Santa visits Seton Hospital NICU babies, parents


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 20 at 7:40 PM

AUSTIN -- For many families, the holidays will be spent worrying and watching precious newborns in the hospital. 

Thursday some of Santa's helpers brought some much-needed Christmas cheer to many of those babies and their parents inside the neo-natel intensive care unit (NICU) at Seton Hospital.

Triplets Parth, Nandan and Nikkil will spend their first Christmas surrounded by nurses and monitors.  They and their parents have been in the hospital for more than four months.

“It's been a crazy journey,” said the triplet’s mother, Priya Gopalakrishnan. “I said, 'God please take care of my babies.' They were all born at 24 weeks, and they're all 42 weeks now, actually two weeks old if they were born full term.”

Twenty-nine babies are in Seton's NICU this Christmas. 

“Babies can be here for days, even months,” said John Lloyd M.D. “It's a challenge to be here during the holiday season.”

Thursday, each fragile infant was dressed in their best and given a festive red blanket as they and their parents got a personal visit from old Saint Nick.

“It's fun to bring some of the holiday joy to them that they really can't go out and get,” said NICU nurse Mandy Vickers. This is the 10th year she and her coworkers have organized these holiday pictures for the families.

“We let them know ahead of time. They bring in special outfits. Siblings can come. We try to make it a fun memory when it's such a difficult time,” Vickers said.

It's a special way for NICU staff and anxious parents to create a precious memory and give thanks as they celebrate the season and little lives that are just beginning.

“It's just giving them a tiny piece of normalcy as close as we can,” Vickers said.