KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Premature, it is a word that brings fear and anxiety to any soon-to-be parent.
In East Tenn. many of these fragile newborns are transferred to Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for life-saving treatment and care.
Sunday the treatment center transformed into Candyland for one sweet celebration, to honor thousands of healthy graduates.
Families that have had a child in the NICU are part of a special group. Staff and families reunite and share stories of success.
Traci Richards an NICU nurse says, "We have babies that came to us at 25 weeks that are now very healthy, thriving 8, 9, 10, 14 years old that we get to actually see today, and the actually grow up to be such healthy thriving individuals."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half a million babies in the U.S. are born premature every year.