Gabriel Battaglia Cruz was born at 26 weeks, weighing 2 pounds 6 ounces, to Henrique Cruz and Andreza Battaglia Cruz. Both father and mother were very afraid and worried about the future of their newborn son. But today, they are very grateful for the outstanding, compassionate care provided by South Miami Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Unit (NICU); particularly by Alyssa Benjamin, R.N., who was Gabriel’s nurse from the very beginning.

Gabriel made steady progress in the NICU, until the day he turned one month old. His mother, Andreza, noticed he was not acting like himself – not moving much. She knew something was wrong and her instincts proved to be right. Little Gabriel had never had a bradycardiac episode, but within a 30-minute span, he experienced three of them. He was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, a disease in which the bowel can become perforated and potentially be fatal. An estimated 12 percent of infants born weighing less than 3.3 pounds will suddenly develop NEC. Of those, about 30 percent will not survive.

Andreza told her husband,” I can’t lose him. I can’t think of my life without him anymore.” Thankfully, the caring professionals at the South Miami Hospital NICU caught it very early and moved little Gabriel back to Level 3 precautionary, where he did amazingly well through the entire process. After 110 days in the expert care of the South Miami Hospital NICU team, Gabriel was ready to go home, and today, he is thriving. Thousands of babies like Gabriel owe their lives to South Miami Hospital’s caring professionals.

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