Santa comes to town at Mercy Hospital for Women’s Neonatal Unit

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Santa Claus returned to Mercy Hospital for Women’s (MHW) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Nursery (SCN) to bring holiday cheer to the hospital’s youngest patients and their families.

The initiative provides families who are spending their holiday season with a sick or premature baby in hospital with the opportunity to have their first Christmas photo with Santa.

2023 marks the fifth year Mercy Hospital for Women has had the pleasure of welcoming Father Christmas and the first since COVID-19 disruptions impacted the initiative’s ability to take place.

Santa Claus with Baby Daisy in the Special Care Nursery.

Santa’s visit to the NICU and SCN has been generously coordinated by former Mercy Hospital for Women patients, Stephanie and Dean Brebner. In 2015 the Brebner family faced an unexpected challenge when their daughter Abigail was born 12 weeks premature. This led the family to spend a significant amount of time in the NICU during the holiday season.

The special project sees Mr Brebner don a Santa costume and take photos with the babies and was inspired by Mr and Mrs Brebner in honour of their own first family photo, captured in the NICU on Christmas Day. The poignant moment unfolded after weeks of crucial care and support for baby Abigail, serving as a beacon of hope for the family during Christmas time.

“Spending so much time in hospital after having a premature baby in those early stages of your child’s life is something you can’t plan for as a parent. It changes your world and your life”, said Mrs Brebner.

“We know how isolating it can be for parents to have a child in the hospital, especially during the holidays. This special project represents our way of standing beside parents who are going through one of the hardest challenges life can throw at you.”

Abigail Brebner, now a fit and healthy eight-year-old, is a testament to the care provided by the dedicated staff at Mercy Hospital for Women. Mrs Brebner added, “We are forever grateful for the love and care Mercy staff provided us over that period in our lives.”

Stephanie and Dean Brebner with their daughter Abigail.

Nurse Unit Manager of Neonatal Services, Amy Farrelly, said the NICU and SCN staff are ecstatic to be welcoming the Brebner’s and their special project back to Mercy Hospital for Women in 2023.

“Every year, the NICU and SCN team eagerly anticipates Santa’s visit and the joy it brings to the families here. It hasn’t been the same celebrating Christmas without this project over the past few years,” said Ms Farrelly.

“We are immensely grateful for Stephanie and Dean’s commitment to giving back to our special community through this heartwarming event year after year.

Last reviewed December 19, 2023.

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