NICU Miracle Times Two: Micro-preemies Celebrate 40th Birthdays
Dec 20, 2023
Gary Zavoral
Two women open presents


About the video: Jilyn Richmond was born in 1983 at 1 pound 6½ ounces on May 3, and Loriellen Byron was born at 1 pound 6 ounces just a month later on June 2, and they spent a couple of months together in the first neonatal intensive care unit at “Sacramento’s baby hospital” at Sutter Medical Center.

According to studies, babies born under 1½ pounds (classified as “extremely low birth weight”) during those early years of neonatal care had less than a 30% survival rate. But, due to the passionate, compassionate care of Sacramento’s pioneering neonatologist Dr. Andrew Wertz and perinatologist Dr. Hanns Haesslein, along with a team of dedicated nurses, both girls not only survived, but thrived.

The two women recently found each other online, with both still living in the Sacramento area – Jilyn, a mother of two, and Loriellen, a high school special education instructional aide. For their combined 40th birthday celebration, they were reunited with Dr. Haesslein, Dr. Wertz and nurses, but also met each other for the first time in person. Their parents also reconnected with their care teams and shared recollections of their time in the groundbreaking NICU. They shared heartfelt thanks to the physicians and staff for saving their girls’ lives.

In addition, since none of them have seen how NICUs have progressed in the past 40 years, they were treated to a tour of the Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento’s neonatal intensive care unit, which is the largest and most advanced NICU in Northern California. It is part of the Sutter Children’s Center, which is a comprehensive pediatric hospital at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

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