NICU Team Helps Smallest Baby Ever Born at Winthrop Defy All Odds

Vol. 14, No. 2
Spring 2004

  • Winthrop Ranked #1 in New York State in Angioplasty and at the Top in the State for Open Heart Surgery

  • Winthrop Officially Opens New Heart Surgery Center & Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • Winthrop's New Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • The New Heart Surgery Center

  • NICU Team Helps Smallest Baby Ever Born at Winthrop Defy All Odds

  • Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • New Medication to Treat Severe Asthma Helps Winthrop Patients Breathe, Not Wheeze

  • Winthrop Sets Out to Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare at 3rd Annual Hispanic Health Fair

  • Peer Visitors Provide Hope, Faith to Stroke Patients at Winthrop Stroke Peer Visitor Program First of its Kind on Long Island

  • Diabetes Education Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary

  • New York Dragons Spread Cheer at Winthrop's Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • Golfers Hit the Greens at 19th Annual Winthrop Golf Tournament

  • 'A Night at the Opera' Benefits Winthrop's Kids

  • Insurance... a means for charitable giving

  • Jay's World, The New York Islanders Children's Foundation & Charles B. Wang Foundation Support Winthrop's New Pediatric Inpatient Unitd

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  • Robert Thomas on Thanksgiving 2003 - notice his dad's wedding ring around his tiny leg.
    Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines the word miracle as "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs." Cathy and Robert Stahl of Huntington have their own definition - their son, Robert Thomas. Born at 27 weeks gestational age, Robert Thomas weighed a mere 14 ounces, making him the smallest surviving baby ever born at Winthrop. Baby Robert is a story of survival and of love.

    Born on November 3, 2003, more than three months premature, little Robert spent the first three months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Winthrop. A true fighter in every sense of the word, Robert Thomas hung on to life. Hooked up to special breathing tubes and oxygen and cardio-pulmonary monitors, little Robert battled all the odds that were stacked up against him.

    Up until week 22, Cathy Stahl had a wonderful pregnancy. Then, she started to feel tired all the time and her OB/GYN, Dr. Robert Nadell, ordered a level II ultrasound to make sure everything was fine with her baby. But, all was not fine. Her physician discovered that the baby was not growing, diagnosing him with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Doctors speculate that there was not enough blood flow to the placenta.

    The Stahl family - Cathy, Robert and Robert Thomas - getting ready to go home for the first time.
    A couple of weeks after this finding, Mrs. Stahl began losing amniotic fluid - a definite red flag and a frightening moment. She was quickly admitted to Winthrop's New Life Center where she and the baby were closely monitored. But, after the baby's heart rate began to drop her doctor ordered an emergency cesarean section to save baby Robert's fragile life. Mrs. Stahl was given injections of steroids to help prepare her baby's underdeveloped lungs for life outside of the womb and on November 3rd, Robert Thomas was born weighing less than one pound.

    With his fragile life hanging in the balance, Robert Thomas was quickly whisked to the NICU, where his fighting spirit garnered him the nickname of "Rocky." He was truly adored by the entire NICU team and the Stahl's quickly became a part of the unit's extended family.

    Cathy Stahl explained, "Not only did the nurses and doctors take care of our son, they took care of us. On a particularly trying day, they were always there to put their arms around us and tell us that things would be 'OK.'"

    "This little baby was a true fighter," stated Jonathan Davis, MD, Chief of Neonatology at Winthrop. "He overcame many obstacles over the course of his stay in the NICU, especially for a baby of his extremely low birthweight."

    Dr. Davis explained that one of the obstacles the NICU staff faced was finding equipment and tubes small enough to treat such a tiny baby.

    Robbie napping in his Easter outfit, healthy at more than eight pounds, thanks to his head start in Winthrop's NICU.
    While the Stahl's were living through one of the most trying times of their lives, they were fortunate to have delivered their tiny miracle at Winthrop. Designated a New York State Regional Perinatal Center in 2002, Winthrop is one of only 18 such centers in the State, equipped with the most advanced technology to care for the sickest babies. The designation recognizes Winthrop as a center for excellence in caring for the mothers and babies throughout the region in need of the highest level of obstetrical and perinatal care.

    Thanks to the care and technology available in the NICU, baby Robert grew stronger every day. He was finally discharged from the hospital on February 25, 2004, weighing just over five pounds and still on oxygen. Smiles and tears from both the Stahl family and the NICU staff flowed freely as they said their good-byes. They had become a family, sharing in the ups and downs of Robert's first months of life.

    "The nurses and doctors were just so wonderful," said Mrs. Stahl. "We can't thank them enough for all they have done for us. If it weren't for them, Robert Thomas would not be with us today."

    Because of the head start he received in Winthrop's NICU (with a lot of love mixed in with the wonders of modern medicine), Robert Thomas is thriving at home with his mom and dad. By May 2004 he weighed more than eight pounds. He's also been visited by several of the NICU nurses who fell in love with him and his incredible spirit during his stay at Winthrop.

    "We know he is going to be just fine," stated Mrs. Stahl. "He is a wonderful baby with a feisty personality. He is definitely the boss in this family."

    For more information about maternal/child health services in the Institute for Family Care or the neonatal intensive care unit at Winthrop, call 1-877-559-KIDS or visit

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