Personal Story - From the first day of life, to the first day of school: NICU alumnus already dreams of becoming a doctor

“A traumatic entrance to the world,” is how Noelle Piche McCarney describes her daughter’s birth on October 7, 2015. Ushered to Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), baby Charlotte was suffering from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE).

Like many infants with this type of brain damage—which occurs when an infant’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen and blood—the situation was critical and required immediate intervention. “Charlotte was at risk for Cerebral palsy,” says Noelle, “and there were concerns she might never walk or talk.”

Four years later, though, the trauma has made way for triumph: Charlotte McCarney started Kindergarten this week. Wearing a big smile and a brand new pair of shoes, mom says Charlotte “has made a full recovery from her brain injury at birth and now looks forward to becoming a doctor herself one day.”

Kingston is one of only five communities in the province to offer sophisticated, innovative high-risk neonatal intensive care. KHSC’s dedicated NICU medical team strives to ensure all babies have the best possible start in life. The KGH site cares for babies from Kingston and region, as well as from across the province when other NICUs are full.

“I think back to that little infant,” says Noelle, “and how far she has come thanks to these amazing doctors and nurses who cared for her. I want the NICU team to know how grateful I am.”

The ongoing need to acquire, upgrade and replace important life-saving NICU equipment remains urgent as ever. From the first day of life to the first day of school, technology plays a critical role in helping children, like Charlotte, survive, thrive, and, ultimately live the healthiest lives possible.

You can support the KGH site NICU by giving generously to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation.