Three recent graduates of Dunedin Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) were full of life as they made a return visit today.

The bouncing baby boys called in with their mums as part of World Prematurity Day.


NICU graduates (from left) Eddie (with mum Vanessa Lidgett), Ollie (with mum Melanie Gutschlag) and Oto (with mum Emily Kernot) visit the Dunedin Hospital unit as part of World Prematurity Day.

Oto (1), Ollie (11 months) and Eddie (1) have made great progress since their premature arrivals and subsequent care in the NICU.

Yesterday they were bundles of boyish energy, pulling at hair and attempting to eat whatever they could get their tiny hands on at a morning tea to mark the day.

The mums – Emily Kernot (Oto), Melanie Gutschlag (Ollie) and Vanessa Lidgett (Eddie) – have stayed in contact and said it was important to give back to the unit.

“We want to support the mums. It’s important to show this is what your kids can be like,” Emily said.

“When you’re in here it’s quite overwhelming so it’s important we can bring these guys in and show this future perspective,” Vanessa said.

Along with their babies, the trio were packing some nice goodie bags full of treats for the mothers in the unit.

The Oh, Hello Little One packs include Little Roo balm products made by Megan and Josh Spence whose daughter Hannah-Ruth was also in the Dunedin NICU.

NICU Charge Nurse Manager Juliet Manning was thrilled with the visit.

“It’s great for the staff as we often don’t get to see the babies once they leave. For other parents to see those families and to see their babies have grown and carried on developing is also really good.”

About one in 10 babies is born prematurely, which equates to 5000 premature births in New Zealand every year.