Hurricane Florence's Tiniest Evacuees Flown to Safety from the NICU Ahead of Storm
Two premature babies — a boy and a girl who were both born at barely more than a pound — are among the tiniest hurricane evacuees trying to escape a direct hit from Florence.
The newborns who belong to two different families and were being cared for at New Hanover Regional Hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina, earlier this week as Hurricane Florence was barreling toward the coastal city.
Doctors coordinated with crews at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, 200 miles inland to get both babies moved to safety.
“It took about two days to get all of this together,” Megan Elliot, the nurse manager of the NICU at Levine Children’s Hospital, tells PEOPLE.
Dariel was born at just 23 weeks old and his neighbor in the NICU, Sa’Briyah Brown, was born at 25 weeks.
Brown’s mom, 28-year old Sheron Moore tells PEOPLE, “My main concern is that she’s safe during the storm.”
The Charlotte hospital sent its Med Center Air, a specially equipped plane, to bring both babies inland.
“Whenever babies are born at that stage their lungs are not developed so they need a ventilator, extra respiratory support, so they have to stay in the NICU,” Elliot says. She says both babies are now settled in their temporary home and doing well.
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The first-time mom says she was at church two weeks ago when she started having labor pains and by Monday morning on August 27, she was fully dilated and had no choice but to give birth.
“I was told I’d never be able to have a baby on my own so this whole thing feels like a fairytale to me. I never thought any of this would happen,” Moore tells PEOPLE.
The nurse manager says when babies are born that young, they can often spend two to three months in the NICU, and while both babies will ride out the storm in Charlotte, the plan is to fly them back to Wilmington as soon as it’s safe.
Brown is anxious, but says she’s grateful for all that everyone is doing to make sure her baby is well taken care of.
“That’s my miracle, that’s my fighter, I’m so proud of my baby girl!” she says.