Micro-preemie Overcomes 5% Chance of Survival

Mateo Bravo grins proudly, taking wobbly steps across the room.

In so many ways, he’s a typical 18-month-old. But Mateo has already defied extraordinary odds.

This tiny marvel was born unexpectedly at 22 weeks and two days—more than four months before his due date.

“I was terrified,” said Mateo’s mom, Teresa. “He is my firstborn, and I was so afraid I was going to lose him.”

In the delivery room at Sanford Worthington, a team of nurses, doctors and neonatal specialists surrounded Teresa as Mateo was delivered by emergency c-section.

The fragile newborn weighed barely 1 pound; his skin was still transparent. And while statistics said his chance of survival was just 5%, the sound of Mateo’s faint cry told everyone he was going to be a fighter.

123 days in critical care


Not long after his birth, Mateo was airlifted to the Sanford Boekelheide NICU in Sioux Falls, where he spent the next 123 days in critical care.

For the first two months in the NICU, Mateo was protected within a Giraffe OmniBed, a carefully controlled infant bed and care station.

“It’s like a womb outside a womb,” Teresa explained. “It kept him warm and nurtured him, because, I couldn’t anymore. It really helped him grow.”

The worst days included infections and a grade 3 brain bleed, but Mateo kept fighting, growing and thriving.

Defying the odds


Today, you would never guess Mateo was born four months early.


“He’s growing—he’s really big now!” Teresa exclaims. “He’s crawling and learning to walk. He’s a very happy baby, and loves being around people.


“When I got pregnant, I didn’t know a lot about pre-term births—I never expected to go through any of this or need this care. It’s really good to have this care close to home.”

The region’s most advanced newborn care


As the only Level IV NICU in the Dakotas, the Sanford Boekelheide NICU provides the most advanced newborn care for the region’s most fragile and critically ill babies, born as early as 22 weeks. On average, 45 babies are receiving lifesaving care at any one time.


While most hospitals have to prioritize a limited number of Giraffe Omnibeds for only the sickest babies—with your help, our caregivers never will have to make those impossible choices. Your support for the Sweet Dreams campaign will help ensure every baby needing extra care can benefit from a Giraffe OmniBed and more, for as long as they need it.


Learn more.


100% of your gift will help equip every patient suite in the NICU with a Giraffe OmniBed and NICVIEW camera system, in addition to helping provide leading-edge Panda Warmers for all infants born at The Birth Place at Sanford USD Medical Center.


  • Giraffe OmniBed: Designed to mimic a mother’s womb, the Giraffe OmniBed surrounds critically ill and premature babies in a carefully controlled environment optimal for growth.
  • Panda Warmer: By providing direct, comfortable heat, the Panda Warmer helps newborns transition after birth.
  • NICVIEW camera system: With secure video streaming available around the clock, the NICVIEW camera system allows family members can virtually visit baby anytime, anywhere.


The care these infants receive in the first moments and days of their lives, will matter for a lifetime.

“We can really help these babies and give them a chance. They’re going to build our future. I just know Mateo is going to do amazing things with his life and tell his story someday.”
Teresa Bravo
Mateo’s Mom

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