Then and Now: Meet a NICU Graduate

Bode Doll is like any other 2-year-old. He wants to do everything himself, gives his baby brother the sweetest kisses and, of course, refuses to sit still.

Born at just 24 weeks, Bode has come so far from his first days in the Sanford Children’s NICU. He makes even the terrible twos feel like a gift to his parents, Erin and Tony Doll.

“We are so lucky and thankful for the NICU team at Sanford,” Erin told us. “They have done an amazing job for Bode. The doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, Child Life Specialists, and all the others who play a part all do their very best work for our kiddos.”

Bode was just 1 pound, 9 ounces at birth. The biggest challenge was getting his lungs to grow and heal. He was on a ventilator for six weeks and a CPAP for 11 weeks after that. He also needed surgery for his eyes, and a long list of other interventions to help him get back on track.

For Erin, a nurse in the Sanford NICU, it was an unimaginable experience. After 10 years working in NICUs, she never imagined her son would require this care.

“I knew too much having seen every conceivable outcome to his situation,” Erin said. “It was hard to know all the bad things that could happen and to not know for many, many weeks that he would be OK.”

Erin remembers the horrible experience of sitting in the NICU, watching Bode and not being able to do anything for him. For the first week and a half of his life, his parents couldn’t hold him. All they could do was wait for him to grow.

“For me, the hardest thing was not being able to parent him,” Erin said. “I couldn’t make decisions for him. I couldn’t hold him.”

It was a long and difficult road, but after four months, Bode graduated from the NICU. He has been doing great since. Earlier this year, he became a big brother. Born at just 32 weeks, Rory also required care in the NICU and after five weeks, was able to go home with his family.

“We can’t thank the providers and staff in the NICU enough for saving our boys,” Erin said. “It’s a debt of gratitude that can never be paid.”

The impact of giving


Throughout their experience, the Doll family felt the support of our donors in countless ways. Your generosity means:

  • Equipment and technology to help sick and premature infants grow
  • Training and resources for expert caregivers and specialists
  • Child Life to support parents through the NICU journey
  • NICView cameras to help families bond and stay connected with their NICU baby, even when they can’t be there in person
“The Foundation is so important for our kids and the care we are able to give. From the staff side, I know how important it is to have this support to give the best care. As a parent, having the best care for your child means everything. To be able to stay close to home and receive all the care your child needs locally is amazing. We are so very lucky to have Foundation supporters who make this care possible.”
Erin Doll
Bode’s Mom

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