For anyone who has witnessed the medical journey a baby goes through in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), there’s no denying it’s extraordinary. For Ted and Kathleen Ampazis of Wooster, their son’s NICU stay was like many – equal parts joy and worry – and also just the beginning of his remarkable achievements.
Their son, Ted, was born at 26 weeks, weighing in at 2 lbs. 5 oz. and spent 13 weeks at Akron Children’s NICU.
“We were new parents so we didn’t really know what to do or expect when we got to the NICU … we just trusted that the people around us did,” said dad, Ted Ampazis. “I remember him (Ted) being hooked up to all these machines and when one would start beeping it meant his heart stopped…a nurse would rush in and tell us, then show us, what we needed to do if it happened again. I thought, ‘What? I’m not a professional. I’m just a new dad.’”
While the NICU stay taught Ted, the dad, to gain confidence in his ability to care for his delicate son, it helped Ted, the baby, to further develop major organs so he could breathe, eat and digest food on his own, as well as increase muscle mass and strength so he could thrive on his own.
“The NICU staff was fantastic…the nurses are real-life heroes. They helped Ted make it through all the stages of the NICU which we were thrilled and amazed by,” said Ted. “Once home, we kept Ted indoors for the first year, though, because we were so scared he’d get RSV or some other nasty virus that would damage the lungs he worked so hard to develop.”
When Ted started preschool he got sick frequently, but his immune system was strong enough to fight off the typical childhood viruses and he continued to meet milestones. Ted started kindergarten on time and that’s when his parents decided he should try something new.
“We signed him up for piano lessons at age 6 just for something different to do,” said Ted. “My wife and I aren’t musical so when the teacher told us he had perfect pitch we thought it was a nice compliment…We didn’t realize his ability.”
Perfect pitch, often referred to as absolute pitch, is a rare auditory phenomenon whereby a person has the ability to identify the letter name of a sounded note – only about one in 10,000 people can do it.
Ted’s musical abilities didn’t stop at the piano. He started playing the guitar and then the drums with ease.
Ted’s once tender lungs are built like a champ, too. The NICU grad who couldn’t breathe on his own at birth is now a runner.
At age 8, Ted runs and trains for short runs to stay in shape and to enjoy the outdoors. His parents recently signed him up for the National Interstate 8k&1 mile race that supports Akron Children’s Hospital. Ted came in 40th out of 143 men, women and children in the 1-mile run with a 9:28 pace.
“If Ted’s story can give anyone, especially parents in the NICU, hope then his story is worth sharing. For those sitting beside their child wondering what life will be like for their baby if and when they get out, trust me, you’re in good hands at Akron Children’s,” said Ted. “You can do it as a parent and your child can too…don’t ever lose hope. Ted is a great example of what’s possible…We’re forever grateful for the care Ted received.”
To support the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series like Ted, register now for the last race in the series, First Energy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay, or make a donation here.