UNC Neonatologists of 2009

Avery Award of Excellence in Neonatology

UNC Medical Center

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Nominated by Meghan Hall Rauen

UNC NICU 2009Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation’s own Meghan Hall Rauen nominated the neonatologists of 2009 that cared for her son, Avery John Rauen, during his short life. Specifically, the nomination recognizes the work of Dr. Sofia Aliaga MPH MD, Dr. Diane Warner MPH, MD, Dr. Karen Wood, MD, and Dr. Wayne Price, MD. “I would like to nominate the NICU team of 2009 who not only took care of our son Avery but also our family. The team of Dr. Aliaga, Dr. Warner, Dr. Price and Dr. Wood in addition to the amazing neonatal nursing staff and pediatric surgery team who took care of our son and us in a way that assured us that our son was being left with family when we were not able to be in the unit. The enduring support of Dr. Aliaga and Dr. Warner to this day for our family, beyond Avery’s small life, has a lasting impact in our family. Had Dr. Warner and Dr. Aliaga not been so patient in the moments of Avery’s life and so present in the moments he passed, the peace we have now would not be what it is. We have been able to grow from our son’s life as a direct result of the attentiveness and patience these physicians had with us and our son. Dr. Aliaga and Dr. Warner’s presence in the final moments of Avery’s life were particularly impactful. Dr. Wood would patiently teach my partner and myself about the various aspects of Avery’s care and Dr. Price would help us feel like we had a relevant voice in our son’s care. I can remember Dr. Aliaga walking us back to look at our son’s film and explaining them, and Dr. Warner was by my side throughout the logistics of taking Avery off his life support. Not only were they so supportive of the time and involvement we needed during Avery’s life, but just as present in his death. They extended care into his passing, and helped create and offer the right options for us to achieve peace in his death. There was never any “removal of care” the care absolutely endured. From allowing us the time (at night, away from the day crowds) and space (outside at the butterfly garden with candles) to allow our involvement and peace in Avery’s passing, they made the logistical process as burden and judgment free as possible. I can still remember the very human moment I had with Dr. Wood when she handed me a pin to place in Avery’s casket that reassured me how much she cared and was invested in my son and how invested Dr. Price was for our efforts to start a support organization for families such as ourselves. I have no recollection of any one other than the UNC staff’s presence at Avery’s funeral, and the personal words Dr. Warner offered the congregation during the service, which are saved in Avery’s firebox. The loss of a child is not something time changes. But we have the peace and love we have as memories because of these physicians’ attentiveness to detail, attentiveness to the human moments in Avery’s are, and their presence in our experience in the NICU. They did not hide behind risk and benefit, or medical speak, they engaged us as human beings. These moments made all the difference in our lives and endure still today. I cannot thank them enough.”

Pictured above, from left to right: Dr. Sofia Aliaga MPH MD, Dr. Diane Warner MPH, MD, Dr. Karen Wood, MD, Dr. Wayne Price, MD