Human Interest

INSPIRING: NICU doctor now works alongside premature baby she saved decades ago

NICU

It was a walk down memory lane when a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) doctor at Franciscan Health in Lafayette, Indiana, welcomed the department’s newest nurse — who had once been a premature baby under the doctor’s own care.

Dr. Rosario Chua is the medical director of the NICU at Franciscan Health, and has been working as a NICU specialist for 30 years. When Megan Milakis was born prematurely 23 years ago, Chua was the physician who helped care for her. Today the two are working side by side.

“Obviously there are some patients that you never forget,” Chua told WLFI. “When I heard about Megan starting as a NICU in my unit I met with her and of course we hugged and I thought my goodness, my baby, from 23 years ago is working alongside me,” she added.

READ: Preemies serve as attendants at parents’ wedding, thanks to NICU staff

Chua especially remembers Milakis because, as a premature newborn, Milakis went into respiratory failure and became very ill. She required a special ventilator that Chua was trained to use, but which the hospital didn’t have. Milakis had to be transferred to a different hospital, but that experience inspired her grandfather to donate to Franciscan Health, so they could purchase that special ventilator.

“As a philanthropist, he went ahead and jump-started the donation for the purchase of the ventilator and since then we have taken care of so many babies in respiratory failure,” said Chua.

 

Now Milakis is back in the NICU, bringing hope to the families of newly premature babies. “When I say that Dr. Chua took care of me and I’m a NICU baby myself, [parents] are usually very surprised and happy to see a strong outcome,” she said.

Having a baby in the NICU, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a very emotional and stressful time for parents and families. Having a former NICU baby helping to care for your own NICU baby likely helps parents keep a positive outlook, even during the most stressful times. Knowing that the same doctor who cared for her is also caring for your baby also provides hope and trust.

“It completely came full circle,” Milakis said. “She was here when I first started out and when I was starting my nursing career for her to be a part of it and now is really cool and special.”

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