Lufkin family passes on idea of bonding with preemies with sense of smell

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - LukeBall was seven days old the first time his parents ever held him.

"Theyput him in a little case, like a space shuttle and brought him by the room andwe got to spend maybe five minutes with him and didn't get to hold him or touchhim," said Kris Ball, Luke's dad.

Soto bond with their baby, Kris and Leslie Ball relied on a blanket his sense ofa smell.

"Theytold me to sleep with it at night, on my chest, back, laying on it," said Ball.

KrisBall says his son was born last November weighing 5lbs and 5 ounces, withsevere complications.

Afteran emergency c-section he was life flighted to Women's Hospital in Houston.

"Hewasn't breathing well, had very weak heartbeat," said Ball.

Unableto hold their baby, nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit gave the couplelove patches.

Asmall blanket to help them connect with their baby.

"Wecame in and he had his head turned on it and was smelling it, I knew right thenwe would be good buddies," said Ball.

Nowthree months later, Luke is happy and healthy and the family is bringing loveback to the new NIC- Unit at Woodland Heights.

"Wedidn't have smell blankets, I'd never heard of it it's kind of neat," saidPatricia Smathers, Volunteer

Withthe help of the hospital's Four generations group, they hope to produce 118love patches.

"Eachparent will get one to sleep with so we'll need two per baby," said KimOgden, Assistant Director of Marketing, Woodland Heights

TheBall's hope to use the donated love patches to honor their son's journey.

"Itwas almost like we'd made it up the mountain and we're on the other side,"said Ball.

Andgive other NICU parents a peice of hope when all seems lost.

Woodland Heights opened their NIC unit lastNovember just two weeks after Luke was born.

Hospital officials say they've have had 16NICU babies since opening the unit.

The Ball's hope to deliver the blankets bynext week.

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