Dean Nossaman’s NICU journey inspires a thankful gift

Dean Nossaman

Corinne Libby Nossaman was in her 24th week of pregnancy when preeclampsia led to her hospitalization at Katz Women’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. At 28 weeks, the Nossaman’s son, Dean, was born, weighing 1 pound, 9 ounces.

Dean spent almost three months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. “I first held Dean when he was under 2 pounds, and I was terrified. He was so fragile,” Mrs. Nossaman said.

Dean Nossaman and dad

The Nossamans practiced kangaroo care, which was very important for Dean’s development. Kangaroo care involves skin-to-skin contact, with the baby lying on the parent’s bare chest for an hour or more. The contact helps regulate the baby’s temperature, heart rate and breathing. It also prepares the infant for breastfeeding when the time comes, a benefit that feeding specialists noticed immediately in Dean.

“The staff at both Katz and Cohen treated us like family and provided tremendous encouragement and support,” said Mrs. Nossaman. “Every single person working at Katz and Cohen was wonderful to us, not just the doctors and nurses. It was quite remarkable.”

“They weren’t just caring for Dean’s medical needs,” added Vaughn Nossaman, Dean’s father and a surgical resident at Nassau University Medical Center. “They were caring for our comfort.”

Dr. Nossaman joined his wife at the NICU whenever his evening shift ended. “We read Dean a chapter of Harry Potter each night. He became known as the Harry Potter boy. Two nurses visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and brought him back a tiny Gryffindor jersey.”

Hank and Ellen Weber Libby, Mrs. Nossaman’s parents, believe the hospitals and their staffs saved the lives of their daughter and grandson. “I’ve never seen a higher level of commitment in a hospital,” said Mr. Libby. Dr. Ellen Weber Libby agreed: “We don’t think of Katz and Cohen Children’s as two separate institutions; it is one institution that takes care of mother and child. As a result, our daughter is thriving, our grandson is thriving.”

Dean, at nine months, weighs 18 pounds and is in the 90th percentile for weight, height and head circumference. To honor the extraordinary level of care mother and child received at Katz and Cohen Children’s, the Nossamans and Libbys decided to purchase kangaroo chairs specifically designed for comfort and ease in skin-to-skin contact in the NICU. “Kangaroo care was the one thingI could do to care for my son,” said Mrs.Nossaman, “so it was important to me. I hope that the chairs will make a huge difference, permitting parents to be more comfortable as they snuggle for long stretches of time with their little ones.”

 

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