Each year there are nearly 3,000 infants born at West Islip’s Good Samaritan Hospital.

Of those newborns, about 10 to 15 percent, according to the hospital, are born prematurely and have to enter the the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Because they were born before they were physically ready to leave the womb, preemies can be at risk for several health problems.

To bring awareness of this issue that effects so many local families, Good Sam hosted a party Friday to recognize World Prematurity Day.

So that they invited former NICU families back to West Islip where they gave presents to the preemies who were once in their care.

“It’s about making awareness to the general population,” said Dr. Prabhu Mehta, the hospital’s director of neonatology. “It shows people about what is it is about, what it takes to save those babies, and what it takes to take care of them.”

Shira Ferraro and her son Rocco, who was born at 29 weeks, were among those in attendance.

“Not being able to take him home with me was heartbreaking,” recalled Shira, who has three older children.

Little Rocco was born 2 pounds, 13 ounces.

After two months of being in the NICU, Rocco was able to go home to Shira and her husband, Nicholas.

“I wouldn’t of been able to do with the nurses do,” said Shira, who lives in Deer Park. “They are angels.”

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Shira Ferraro with her son Rocco.

The Ferraros were joined by husband and wife Fransisco and Jennifer Luciano, who had twins born at 25 weeks.

“It was a snowy day,” recalled Fransisco. “She told me her water broke, but I didn’t believe it.”

After rushing his wife to the hospital, a few days later, little Savannah Lynn and Giovanni Brook were born — both at 1 pound, 10 ounces.

Both were born in critical condition and spent the first 110 days of their lives in the NICU.

“There was a feeling of helplessness,” said Fransisco.

“We were scared,” added Jennifer.

Their biggest fear came from Savannah, who had a very tumultuous couple of months.

“She flatlined and they brought her back,” said Jennifer.

“She has a scar,” said Francisco.  “Every time we look at it we remember how strong she is and how she fought for her life.”

Now, the two babies are healthy, and the North Babylon family praises the experience at Good Samaritan Hospital.

“I am so thankful the staff here,” said Jennifer.

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The Luciano family at Good Samaritan’s World Prematurity Day party.

Throughout the event, all the preemie families spent time with the staff that helped their children.

“Any time you see these babies come back, you feel like you did something right,” said Mehta. “And the parents feel proud that they did something right at home.

It brings a lot of joy and happiness.”

The NICU staff at Good Samaritan Hospital. (L-R) Dr. Prabhu Mehta, Christine Melrose, Donna Celentano, Laurie Mastandrea, Darian Joseph, and Leah Spare-Krauss.