Parents Thank Nursing Staff on Daughter’s Third Birthday

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For many children, birthdays might include a pizza party, a cake and a trip to the zoo.

For Kierstyn Rader, who turned 3 years old Monday, there was indeed an ice cream cake and a pizza party.

But Kierstyn and her parents also made a stop Monday at the newborn intensive care unit, just as she has every year since her birth.

“We just feel that without the staff and the resources available to them, Kierstyn would not have been able to pull through,” said her mother, Mary Catherine Rader, who makes the annual trip up from Sierra Vista.

“We feel it is a blessing to continue to visit with them and thank everyone for what they were able to do.”

Aside from bringing their captivating little bundle of energy – who is not only the youngest child, but the only girl among three older brothers – Mary Catherine and husband Marc distributed sub sandwiches throughout the unit.

Kierstyn, whose name appropriately means “Gift From God,” came into the world on April 23, 2009, born three months premature and weighing slightly more than two pounds.

Pictures of her at the time show her tiny foot was about the size of the first knuckle on an adult finger.

Mary Catherine had been taken by helicopter to TMC two days earlier because she was having contractions that could not be stopped. As a precaution, she said, the doctor at TMC placed her on an antibiotic IV while tests were completed.

The tests came back showing she had bacteria in her uterus that could be fatal both to her and to her baby.

“Having been proactive with the antibiotic, the doctor saved my life,” Rader recalled, noting doctors were able to stop the contractions long enough that they were also able to provide steroid shots to give little Kierstyn a fighting chance.

Kierstyn was in the newborn intensive care unit for the next 62 days, with an incubator regulating her body temperature and oxygen levels.

“It is because of the equipment given by Children’s Miracle Network and the expertise of the staff in the NICU that our daughter is alive and developing normally today,” Rader said.

Rader said while not diminishing any of the work that any other staff members did, the family has a special connection with Vicky Osborn, who was the primary case nurse.

“It’s great to see her happy and healthy,” Osborn said, noting the family stays in touch and shares stories of their adventurous tyke.

While Mary Catherine said she doesn’t know how much Kierstyn really knows about that time in her life, she was struck that on her second birthday, when the little girl went to a build-a-bear workshop, she named her bear Vicky and hugged it and gave it kisses. “There’s a part of me that thinks she knows what they’ve done for her,” she said.

In the unit, nurse Julie Seidl came to see how much had changed since Kierstyn was a baby. “I can’t believe how grown up she is!” she exclaimed. “To see her walk in here – and being so feminine – it’s really a treat.”

Indeed, Mary Catherine, a self-described tomboy as a child, said her daughter gravitates to all that is pink and purple and glittery. Shiny is likewise appreciated – as was the case when she opened a gift of a silver necklace given to her by her former discharge nurse, Margi Albert.

The family chatted with other families on the unit, to share tips and the assurance that things will go well in the future.

Kierstyn not only is developing normally – talkative, energetic and funny – but she rarely even contracts a cold, Rader said.

“She keeps us on our toes,” Rader said. “We always say she’s small and mighty.”

And growing up every day.


  1. Albert and Lisa Lopez says:

    We love all the nurses at TMC NICU! This story hit close to our hearts also since our angel s_@pent a month in the NICU Without all the nurses and doctors kind compassionate souls we would not of gotten th_rough it all. We wouldn’t change a thing and all the staff there are a breed their own. Especially want to thank nurse Margie Albert we hold a special place e in our hearts for her. We love you Margie and still have the beaded bracelets you made for Amanda.

  2. “Angels with Stethoscopes”. God bless them all.
    And God has blessed our world by giving life to a precious Little One.


  1. […] parents, Mary Catherine and Marc, not come only back to the unit every year on Kierstyn’s birthday to bring sandwiches and visit with the nursing and care staff, but are helping support the […]

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