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Lucas P The Passarello Family

The NICU staff was very attentive to Lucas, and they had our complete trust.

For Toms River residents Jocelyn and Steve Passarello, MMC’s NICU would be their home away from home for 111 days following the birth of their son, Lucas. Born Oct. 5, 2013, at 26 weeks gestation and weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces, Lucas’ care was primarily related to respiratory issues—a common complication in very small babies.

“Lucas’ biggest issue was with his airway, and he still has issues with his breathing related to that,” says Jocelyn, who notes that he also has something known as soft voice due to scar tissues on his vocal cords.

While he wears glasses to correct farsightedness and currently undergoes occupational and physical therapy to improve his fine motor skills, Lucas is a typical, intelligent and inquisitive 4-year-old.

“The NICU staff was very attentive to Lucas, and they had our complete trust,” Jocelyn says. “We had such a great experience during the 16 weeks we spent at Monmouth. We are involved each year in the Big Steps for Little Feet fund-raising walk, and have kept in touch with many of the nurses, some of whom have babysat for Lucas.”

Jocelyn, a social worker with a local community YMCA, and her husband, Steve, a retail manager for a Best Buy store in Princeton, are also parents to Mack, 1, who was born full term at 8 pounds, 8 ounces. “After Lucas was born, I learned that I had a uterine septum, which is a congenital defect in the wall of my uterus that didn’t allow enough room for him to fully grow, and I had surgery to correct it,” she says.