UI Children's Hospital excited help more premature infants with million dollar donation

Micro premiees are infants born prematurely and weighing less than 1 pound 12 ounces. 

University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife announced they will donate $1 million to the Stead Family Children's Hospital to create a program dedicated to more research on survival rates for premature infants.

The program, “Savvy Ferentz Program in Neonatal Research,” is named after their grand-daughter who died in 2014 from being born at 22 weeks old.

Doctors say this donation will go a long way in research and impact the lives of premature births for future families.

"Just knowing that there's people out there that care about these babies and this hospital and the research means so much to parents like us," said mother Rinthea Satterlee.

Satterlee’s daughter was born nearly five months early.

"We didn't understand the grasp of what was happening, like we were in shock,” she said. “Yeah we're in labor now, but maybe we'll be okay, but then as the contractions got worse and worse and worse, we knew that we would be delivering."

22-week-old Aalyiyah Irene was born a micro premiee weighing around 1 pound and at about the size of a dollar bill.

"She's alive today. How does that happen," said Satterlee.

Satterlee credits her daughter's healthy life to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital doctors who helped keep Aalyiyah fighting.

"In the past when the membrane's ruptured before 24 weeks, a lot of places would say that this is an inevitable loss, and would not even try,” said Dr. Johnathan Klein. “In here, we publish data showing that if you are willing to try, your survival could be up to 90 percent.”

On average, doctors see more than 900 infants at their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit each year.

"One of the things we do here is high frequency ventilation, which is critical to protecting the tiny lungs of these babies,” said Klein. “The obstetricians [is] willing to give steroids before 24 weeks, [which] greatly protects the baby's developmental outcome."

Aalyiyah’s mother is grateful advanced research at the UI Children’s Hospital helped make her daughter stronger. She now weighs about 6 pounds after spending 108 days in the NICU.

A study conducted between 2006 and 2016 on premature babies at the UI hospital shows there is an 89% chance of life of for children born at 25 weeks compared to 60% among those born at 22 weeks.

However, UI infant patients are 10 times more likely to survive premature birth at 22 weeks.

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