LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely every year in the United States, and due to birth complications, many of them spend their first weeks and months receiving specialized care.
"It was one of those things that caused us to lean on our faith," said Adrian and Lucien Dixon, whose son was born prematurely.
For the Dixon family, the journey to giving birth to three pound, five ounce baby Aiden was a long one.
"He had a little bit of heart issues and some breathing, respiratory issues," Dixon said.
Aiden spent the first month of his life receiving around-the-clock care in the neonatal intensive care unit at Woodland Heights Medical Center in Lufkin.
"A lot of care and attention to him, he even stopped breathing twice and they were able to resuscitate him and get him back," Dixon said.
Now a strong 16 pounds, Aiden and a fraction of the over 200 premature children were reunited Sunday with their doctors.
"We meet the families at the worst time of their lives. I always kid that I'm the voice they never want to hear in the middle of the night," said Dr. Linda Chase, NICU Director at Woodland Heights Medical Center.
It's all a part of the hospital's 2nd anniversary celebration of providing NICU treatment.
"It's so great to see them a year later and the babies are doing well and thriving. The parents look so rested and happy compared to when I meet them the first time," Chase said.
This year's anniversary comes just as the hospital plans to launch an area transport team, bringing sick babies from all over Deep East Texas to receive specialized treatment.
"It's a huge asset, just for everybody. The emotional strain and the inconvenience of having a baby get shipped several hours away and some of the tiny preemies are in the hospital for a couple of months," Chase said.
A stressful experience, no doubt. For the Dixon's, the celebration was about honoring their little miracle and the doctors who cared for him.
"They took extremely good care of him. Aiden was not just our baby, they would say all the time 'That's my baby, that's my Aiden. They were all great, they were like a big family," Dixon said.