NICU patients, staff reunite for celebration at Children’s Mercy

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Hundreds of families who’ve been through some of life’s scariest moments were back at Children’s Mercy Hospital Sunday afternoon. But it wasn’t about medicine and treatment.

Mother Tracy Schinzel described her excitement before her son Jude was born.

“First-time parents, you’re so excited for a baby, you get everything planned and then at 20 weeks we found out he had a tumor and so that’s what brought us to Children’s Mercy.”

Little Jude spent nearly 4 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after a tumor and other complications brought him into the world a couple months early.

Tracy and her husband Chris were back at the hospital Sunday, but this time their son is running around outside.

Children’s Mercy NICU Medical Director Eugenia Pallotto, M.D. said, “Our team is so excited to see so many families that are coming back to see us. Many of them spend such a long time in the hospital that it’s really fantastic to see them after they’ve been home and growing and seeing how great they look.”

Tracy Schinzel said, “It was definitely a very scary time not knowing his condition and how he was going to live or what his life was going to look like.”

Jude is doing great now and so are many of the other NICU graduates who celebrated at Sunday’s reunion outside the hospital.

Tracy Schinzel said, “Wince he was born here, everybody saw him come into the world and then his first key days of being alive, they were a part of, so it’s definitely become a family atmosphere to us.”

Her husband Chris said, “Everyone’s just awesome and makes you feel like part of a family.”

While some of life’s hardest moments were spent inside the walls of the hospital, those memories were not present outside; at least not on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, spent full of gratitude.

The hospital moved the event outside because they had so many families come back to celebrate with the staff.