U.T. Medical Center to expand NICU

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- You may not have a premature baby of your own, but chances are you know someone who does or who will. That's why U.T. Medical Center continues to expand its NICU, to give preemies a better chance.

The sounds inside the NICU are the furthest thing from home. The beeping of machines, the wheels of medical devices moving from room to room, alarms notifying nurses of patients in need.

The NICU is void of anything normal, but for Angie and Randy Tindell, it harbors the one thing that matters, her son Jackson.

Angie said, "His cry. I can hear his cry from the hall and I can tell his cry from every other baby's cry here."

Jackson is a preemie, born 10 weeks early, catching up outside the womb at the NICU.

Angie said, "The first week was bad, it was bad but it's getting better. You suck it up. It's not about me it' about him. I just want him to be all right."

Jackson's chances are good, made even better by the private room. It's quiet, allows him to rest, bond with his parents, and gain his strength.

Angie said, "The less that's going on the better noise, light sound all different kinds of things can tax their system."

Her husband Randy agreed, "It gives you a sense of privacy to cry when you have to cry or laugh when you need to laugh."

As of now, not everyone gets a private room because there's not enough. Only the sickest babies or the first in line will get one. That's why U.T. Medical Center is working to transform the open, public portion of the NICU into additional private rooms. But the project comes with a $4.5 million price tag, and help has to come from somewhere.

On Friday, the Bruce Pearl Golf Classic will tee off to help cover the cost to accommodate babies like Jackson. Giving a little piece of home to any family that finds itself far away from theirs.

Angie said, "Wherever they are that's where you want to be even if it's not the easiest place to be that's exactly where you're supposed to be. We love him."


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