You can help purchase new incubators for the NICU at St. Michael’s Hospital by donating online here.
Moments after Vanessa and Michael Hyatt’s twin girls were born in 2021, they were told that one of them had to be rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Two days later, Sienna—then known as “Twin B”—was transferred to the NICU at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Born at just 35 weeks gestation, Sienna was too underweight and unable to regulate her own body temperature. The tiny newborn needed time in an incubator, a safe and warm space where her vital organs could develop further.
“It’s a devastating feeling when your baby is taken away right after you’ve given birth,” says Vanessa. “And it’s even harder when they’re taken away from their twin. But at the same time, I knew she was receiving the best possible care.”
In the NICU, a team of specialist nurses and physicians monitored Sienna around the clock as she gained strength in her incubator. One day, they even set up a special cot so Sienna could visit with her twin, Aviana.
“As soon as the babies were placed together in the cot, they held hands. It was a moment we’ll never forget,” Vanessa reflects. “The team was so compassionate, and they made everything easier when we were going through an incredibly difficult time.”
Leaving the hospital better than they found it
Although the Hyatts received outstanding care, the couple quickly noticed that much of the equipment in the NICU was aging and needed to be replaced.
After speaking with the team, they also discovered that the unit did not have towel warming machines or enough breast pump parts for new mothers unable to afford their own—a common occurrence in a unit that serves many families experiencing challenges like poverty, homelessness and substance use.
The Hyatts decided to take action. That year, the couple purchased towel warmers, breast pump parts and six new scales for the NICU, and in 2022, they donated antibacterial screens.
This year, the Hyatts are deepening their support even further by launching a campaign to purchase new incubators. The NICU’s 10 machines are 22 years old and nearing the end of their lifespan.
The Hyatts are offering to match donations up to $90,000 to purchase new incubators, which cost $33,000 each. Anyone interested in donating to the campaign can do so by clicking here.
“In our family, we always try to leave a hospital better than we found it,” says Michael. “All of us will eventually need to receive care in a hospital, and I think it’s up to all of us to donate into the system to make it better for everyone.”
Improving care for everyone, one gift at a time
Sienna was in the NICU for nine days before she was able to return home to join her parents, twin sister and proud older sister, Sofia.
“When Sienna was discharged, the nurses held a graduation ceremony for her, with a little diploma and cap,” says Vanessa. “I cried so much. We were just so relieved and grateful to the team for their amazing care.”
Now two years old, both twins are thriving. But the Hyatts remain focused on ensuring other families receiving care in the NICU—today and in the future—have access to the best care and state-of-the-art equipment.
“We can all help ensure that every child has access to the resources they need to grow and thrive, and be safe. As a society, we should all want that for each other,” says Vanessa.
“The one thing I think everyone can agree on is the need for a strong healthcare system,” he says. “Things aren’t getting any easier for a lot of people, but there are things we can do to make our city and our world better. This is one of them.”
You can help purchase new incubators for the NICU at St. Michael’s Hospital by donating online here. Our goal: to raise $330,000 so we can purchase 10 new incubators.
If you have any questions about this campaign, please contact Justyna Jonca at JoncaJ@smh.ca.
Donate to St. Michael's Foundation.