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Cook Children’s NICU Volunteers Make Hospital Stay Better For Big Brother Too

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A Granbury family is taking their little baby home after more than six weeks in the hospital.

Abbigail Procopio wasn’t due until late November, but when her mother, Anna Procopio, started having contractions two months early, doctors had to do an emergency C-section.

“I was scared; I was scared to death.” Her mother said. “I was afraid I was going to lose her. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

While Abbigail was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Cook Children’s, her parents have been by her side, every day.

“It’s very important because you need to get that bond,” Procopio said, “I was so afraid of losing that bond.”

But spending so much time in the hospital wasn’t easy for the family.

Anna and her husband Marc, also have a rambunctious three-year-son named M.J.

In Spring of 2009 after the H1N1 scare, the hospital stopped letting older brothers and sisters visit , out of concern for the babies’ health.

The medical center just recently started allowing siblings in the NICU again, but M.J. found it overwhelming.

“He’s very interested in his sister, but he couldn’t sit still,” Procopio explained, “and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t go see the other babies.”

While the couple stayed with Abbigail, volunteers at Cook Children’s stayed with M.J.

“It’s something I enjoy doing, I enjoy volunteer work.” Said Tom Flint, who has volunteered at the hospital for 11 years. “You can see them with a big smile on their face, that’s the most rewarding thing there is.”

Flint and other volunteers signed up for two hour shifts twice daily to babysit M.J. so the Procopio’s could spend some much needed quality time with their newborn.

“I think she’s thrived because of it,” Procopio said. “I’ve been able to be here with her.”

Just as Abbigail has benefited, so has her older brother, M.J.

The family will now bring the baby home, where M.J.’s role will likely evolve.

“My son is going to be my helper and my protector of her,” Procopio said. “I feel like we’ve had angels around us.”

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