March 16, 2001

Former patient reunited with NICU staff

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Former patient Stacy Stumpf, right, and her mother Brenda Gilley hug Dr. Mildred Stahlman at their 30-year reunion. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Former patient reunited with NICU staff

It was a homecoming of a different kind for Stacey Stumpf.

The day before her 30th birthday, Stumpf visited the neonatal intensive care unit, where she had been a patient some 30 years ago.

She was transferred to Vanderbilt after being born at Nashville Memorial – premature, hypothermic and experiencing difficulty breathing.

Stumpf was soon released from Vanderbilt and has lived a healthy life, having three children of her own.

During her reunion visit, she was surprised by a visit by Dr. Mildred Stahlman, founder of the NICU and best known as the pioneer of modern neonatal intensive care.

“I just wanted to come back and say thank you,” Stumpf said with tears in her eyes. “I never expected to see Dr. Stahlman. What a great honor.”

“We just think she was a miracle,” said her mother, Brenda Gilley. “In a moment we could have lost her. We are so thankful to Vanderbilt and for the great work Dr. Stahlman has done.”

The NICU, founded in 1962, has become a Level III regional referral center, admitting 1,000 patients per year. A special newborn ambulance service, started in 1974, provides a NICU “on wheels.” It responds to rural areas and can begin immediate treatment on critically ill babies.