J.D. Sigman, 3, enjoys some cake at the reunion. He was born prematurely with viral meningitis that attacked his liver. - Jamie Lusch

'Miracle babies' return for reunion

The doctors and nurses working in Rogue Valley Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit named Sara Silveira's son "Mighty Mouse" after the boy survived the harrowing first few months of his life.

On Thursday, Silveira and 3-year-old son J.D. Sigman pushed through the hundreds of families gathered at the hospital's south lobby to celebrate the annual Miracle Baby Reunion.

The event allows the families of children born prematurely to reconnect with the doctors and nurses that helped them through the tough early weeks in the hospital.

Silveira, who now lives in Modesto, Calif., hoped to find the respiratory therapist and the nurses who helped revive J.D. after his heart stopped beating one night. The boy was stricken with viral meningitis after being born a month and a half early.

"The virus attacked his liver and then moved to his heart," Silveira said. "He had a heart attack and was clinically dead at 15 days old."

J.D. was hospitalized for 33 days, a portion of which he spent in quarantine for the viral meningitis.

"It was horrible," Silveira said. "And then all the sudden he turned around."

J.D. was one of hundreds of success stories buzzing around the hospital's lobby Thursday afternoon.

Shelly Kent also was looking to thank the doctors who helped her daughter Madisyn pull through an early birth.

Madisyn was born seven weeks prematurely (see correction note below)and was put on oxygen because her lungs had not fully developed.

"I couldn't even hold her until three days after she was born," Kent said. "That's a long time to wait."

Kent spent four weeks in the hospital with Madisyn. In that time she developed a close bond with the medical staff.

"They become like your family when you're here for so long," she said.

The neonatal unit is the regional center for babies born prematurely or with special needs after birth. Many of the families present Thursday were from cities outside Jackson County.

Adam O'Dell and Amanda Lambert drove over from Klamath Falls with their baby Aidan in tow.

The couple spent nine weeks travelling between their hometown and Medford while Aidan recovered from a lung condition and a heart murmur after being born three months early.

"The staff here was so nice to us," O'Dell said. "If it wasn't for them (Aidan) wouldn't be as healthy as he is now."

As the evening wore on, Silveira still was looking for the person who helped save J.D. The boy takes medications two times a day because the left side of his heart was destroyed by the heart attack. Also, an aneurysm has developed in his heart that continues to grow with each doctor visit.

"They tell me to cherish every minute with him," she said. "He could live to be five or 50. This is what I live with every day."

Soon she will send the energetic J.D. to preschool, which she said he is well-suited for.

"He's a smart one," she said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail

Correction: The original version of this story made incorrect reference to the date Madisyn Kent was born. That reference has been removed from this story.

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