When Wooil was born at 23 weeks gestation and clinging to life, Theresa Wagner, RN, and the Regional Health care team created a trusting and compassionate healing environment for him and his family during his time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Wooil spent seven months in the NICU and 15 months in the PICU, where he and his family experienced good times and bad — and Theresa was there through it all.
Wooil and his family are from South Korea and moved to South Dakota shortly before he was born. During their time in the NICU and PICU there was not only a language barrier, but challenges posed by adapting to medical terminology. These hurdles were met head on by Theresa and the rest of the care team, who provided the resources and restored the confidence to let the parents be mom and dad.
“We had a moment in the PICU where he was having a particularly rough weekend. Some things happened that were pretty spectacular and made us think, yes, he’s going to be ok and pull through this,” commented Wagner.
Wooil is now 4 years old and has a tracheostomy that allows oxygen-rich air to reach his lungs and enables him to be at home with his family. Theresa, Wooil, and his family often plan outings, such as playing at the park, going out to lunch, and playing with other kids his age.
“He’s our modern-day miracle,” said Theresa. “He has had to overcome so many things in his young four years and he is a very intelligent little boy. I see a bright future for him.”