ROCKFORD Ill. (WIFR) -- Hundreds of families were invited to Mercyhealth for the 34th annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit reunion.
"I had a 25 percent survival rate, so five years ago when I had my 25th birthday that was really special to me, I posted on Facebook 'yay I am 25 years,” said Nicole Block, former NICU patient at Mercyhealth.
Block was born weighing one pound and three ounces and spent the first seven and a half months of her life in the NICU at Mercyhealth.
“During the seven and a half months it was horrendous for us, basically Nicole was a guinea pig because 30 years ago that was different and not like it is today," said Sherry Block, Mother of former NICU patient at Mercyhealth.
Mercyhealth holds a NICU reunion every September. Families like Block's can share their experiences and visit with medical staff that cared for them.
"It is amazing to see someone who is almost 30 years old and know that I took care of when they were just a very tiny baby in the unit and that's what’s fun about today," said Pam Allen, nurse manager of the NICU at Mercyhealth.
Mercyhealth cares for about 500 NICU babies each year and Block is a living example of what the NICU can do for families.
"It's kind of nice to come back to see how much everything has progressed with the little kids that are here. I have home videos of me with nurses on them in the tapes I mean and just the care that they showed me day after day, they treated me like one of their own,” said Block.
After attending the reunion, Block hopes to share her story with other families.
"I just want to give them a word of encouragement that you can get through this, I am proof I am 30 years now,” said Block.
To learn more about Mercyhealth and the NICU you can visit their website at Mercyhealth.com