Calgary Health Trust

What Newborns Need: A Vision for the Future of Neonatal Care

In Alberta, 1 in 8 newborns require specialized intensive care. Our vision is to transform critical care for the tiniest and most fragile newborns, creating healthy, happy families. To find out more about Foothills Medical Centre’s NICU expansion and redevelopment, please contact Joelle Mar at 403-943-0619 or

Here are just a few stories of the many families impacted by the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU):


Wanda and Sheldon knew that their unborn son had a higher than average nuchal measurement, but when Wanda was rushed in for an emergency C-section at 37 weeks, they found out that Chet was in for a hard road. He was born with Down syndrome and Hydrops, causing an accumulation of fluid in his small body. Sadly, Chet passed away after 41 days in the NICU, but the dedication of the clinical staff gave them reassurance he was receiving the best care and helped them create precious memories with their son. After he passed, the family learned that he had an incurable lymphatic disorder.

Chet now has three younger brothers who speak fondly of him, “in heaven, but still with our family all the time.”


Little Ayaan, the precious first child of Sajeema and Muzammil, was diagnosed in utero with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), causing his diaphragm to not form completely as a fetus. Sajeema was induced at 38 weeks as the doctors felt tiny Ayaan needed to be cared for right away. Ayaan was placed in the quietest corner of the NICU because of his sensitivity to sound. When the family first went to visit him, they couldn’t even talk. He spent the first eight months of his life in the hospital.

After four surgeries, Ayaan is now doing very well, and is eating with a special feeding tube. There is still much research to be done about what causes CDH, but his family is so grateful for the amazing care they received for Ayaan.


When Sandra’s water broke at just 17 weeks, she and her husband Michael were told there was less than a 1% chance that their baby would survive. Then at 27 weeks Benjamin made a speedy entrance into the world. He wasn’t breathing and was immediately taken to the NICU. Doctors were very concerned about Benjamin’s lung development, having been without amniotic fluid in utero for almost 10 weeks. Born at just 2 lbs 8 oz, Benjamin was hooked up to machines to help him breath and grow, spending more than 83 days closely monitored under the most critical level of care by the team at Foothills NICU.

Today, four year old Benjamin is a happy and empathetic boy who always has a comforting hug and kind words for a friend.


In his first few days of life, Adrian experienced more medical ups and downs than most experience in a lifetime. Michelle delivered him at full term of 38 weeks, but her sacroiliac joint went out and he was stuck in the canal which increased his heart rate. Little Adrian started hemorrhaging in the brain. He was immediately taken to NICU for tests and went into cardiac arrest. They worked to save him for 17 minutes. Through numerous critical situations, the family waited minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour and day-by-day to see how he would progress.

When Michelle was finally able to hold him, Adrian was one week old. Her husband, John, waited 10 days. Adrian is now a sweet three and a half year old who only has mild cerebral palsy and loves to ride his bike.

Lucas and Emmett

Twins Lucas and Emmett were born 15 weeks early at 1 lb. 11 oz. and 1 lb. 9 oz. Emmett was a micropremie, and while he faced complications, his parents were grateful that he mostly needed time to grow. However, Lucas had a harder road: a brain hemorrhage, his lung development had him on a ventilator for 72 days and he even faced the possibility of never being able to use the left side of his body. Lucas may not have made it through his many complications without the advanced care available today, but he and Emmett are now typical, happy five year olds in kindergarten.

The experience was so impactful that the family is still friends with the dedicated nurses that cared for their babies. “I don’t know what we would have done without them,” says mom Michelle.