On Sept. 17, 2016, Brody Myles Santiago was born after just 23-weeks of gestation. Born at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, weighing 1 lb., 2 oz., and only 12 inches in length, Brody was given a 5 percent chance of survival. He spent 148 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before graduating and heading home.
This September, just a few weeks after Brody celebrates his first birthday, his parents Ruben and Amy Santiago will be walking for Brody at the Third Annual Walk for Winnie presented by Panera Bread® and hosted by SeaWorld® Orlando. Along with family and friends, they will be celebrating Brody’s life, the doctors and nurses who helped them through their time in the NICU and other families who have experienced, and are still experiencing, similar situations.
We asked Ruben and Amy…
Q: What was life like in the NICU for 148 days?
There were many emotional and perplexing long days and lonely nights spent beating the odds and watching our superhero miracle fight. The difficult journey would constantly change in a moment’s notice, from the fear of the unknown, to reaching huge milestones.
Q: What advice would you give to another family/mother with a baby in the NICU?
Never lose hope. Never stop believing in yourself, your baby, and the doctors and nurses who work at the Winnie Palmer Hospital NICU. Try not to let emotions hinder you or your spouse from being present in each and every moment. Capture every single trial and triumph, because witnessing a miracle is impossible to put into words.
Q: If you could thank the team of doctors and nurses who cared for you and Brody, what would you say to them?
When we were informed that Brody was facing a 5 percent chance of survival, we had no other choice but to have faith in the one who gave us this miracle and trust that He would guide the incredibly passionate team that surrounded Brody every day. Their proactive approach, attention to detail, constant encouragement and communication was truly humbling to witness and instilled a greater peace. We are still in awe of the Winnie Palmer Hospital NICU team and the testament to faith that turned our chance into life changing blessings, and for that we are forever grateful!
Q: What does Walk For Winnie mean to you?
The walk is an opportunity to turn silence into significance for the 1,800+ babies that are cared for in one of the top NICU’s in the world every year. It’s a chance to build an ongoing community of support, empowerment, awareness and funds that are so crucial for the journey of every baby and their families. Some people may ask why they should help spread and raise awareness when prematurity hasn’t touched their life? At one point, it hadn’t touched our life either. Join team ‘Myles For Brody!’
Walk For Winnie is a free, family-friendly event. Donations to support The Alexander Center for Neonatology at Winnie Palmer Hospital are encouraged, however, everyone in the community is welcome to walk with us on Saturday, September 30th. Visit WalkForWinnie.com to register online and make a donation.
The NICU at Winnie Palmer Hospital is the largest single-site NICU in the world and one of the busiest in the country. Thanks to generous support from donors and events like Walk For Winnie, more than 1,800 critically-ill infants are cared for each year and more than 40,000 have been treated since it was founded at Orlando Health ORMC in 1975. The facility is equipped to provide the highest-level of care for high-risk newborns, including babies born prematurely, with congenital heart disease, infections or various other serious conditions.