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Patients in the Spotlight: Maiya Colon

Princess Maiya the Mighty

Heather and MaiyaDid you know that Golisano Children’s Hospital is not just a place of healing, but also a place of magic and enchantment? The Colon family and their daughter Maiya experienced this magic first hand during Maiya’s stay in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Maiya’s mother, Maria Colon, has compiled her memories of Maiya’s NICU experience into a book titled, Becoming Maiya’s Mommy, that dives into Maiya’s story with the fairy tale of “Princess Maiya the Mighty,” as its introduction. Through Maria’s writing, Golisano Children’s Hospital is transformed into a land of nursemaids, mighty knights, and powerful wizards all working around the clock to save Princess Maiya the Mighty.   

Maiya was born seven weeks early in August 2012. Though she had an easy birth, Maiya was admitted to the NICU at Golisano Children’s Hospital because of her premature arrival. For the first few days Maiya was progressing along smoothly, but she, unfortunately, took a turn for the worse and complications stemming from her premature birth began to develop.

Maiya was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition often associated with prematurity in which intestinal tissue starts dying. When Maiya was 6 days old she developed a bowel perforation and had to be rushed into emergency surgery. Chief of Pediatric Surgery Walter Pegoli, M.D., or as Maria named him in her book: “Sir Walter of Surgery,” performed Maiya’s surgery and was able to remove the necrotizing tissue that was threatening Maiya’s life. Assisting Pegoli was Heather Goetzman, nurse practitioner for Pediatric Surgery. Acting fast, the skilled surgery team was able to successfully operate on Maiya and save her life.

After the surgery there were several scary days when Maiya had developed serious complications and was not responding well to medication. During this critical period, the NICU’s team of doctors, nurses, and staff worked around the clock to treat Maiya and bring her back to health. Through the hard work of the NICU staff and the constant love and dedication of her parents, Maiya began to fight off her illness and recover.Maiya

It took Maiya 11 weeks of healing and growing in the NICU before she was able to go home. During this time Maria took to writing as a way of documenting the experience. In addition to writing the fairy tale of Princess Maiya the Mighty, Maria has written more than 300 pages of her own feelings and memories of her family’s time in the NICU. Maria hopes that her writing can provide a source of comfort for other families who are in similar situations.

“I want other families to know that it’s OK to be scared, as long as you don’t stay there too long,” Maria said.

Maria was impressed not only with how confident and meticulous our NICU team was, but also how much they cared about her daughter. “The doctors and staff became a huge support for us,” she said. “They are the people you want in charge of your child’s care.”

Like all good fairy tales, Maiya’s has a happy ending and Maria credits the staff of Golisano Children’s Hospital with making that possible. “If it wasn’t for Golisano Children’s Hospital and medical professionals like Dr. Pegoli and Heather Goetzman, our fairy tale would have had a very different ending.”

Maiya's familyPegoli emphasized that Golisano Children’s Hospital prides itself on giving parents fairy tale endings on a daily basis. “We do this every day,” Pegoli said. “We are fortunate to have the resources and expertise necessary to treat patients like Maiya.”

Maiya’s medical treatment has continued after her stay in the NICU, and she still receives regular treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Even though her days of doctor’s visits are not over, Maria describes Maiya as a happy child without a care in the world. Maria intends to publish her book in order to share her story with other parents and to let the rest of the world know about Princess Maiya and her journey through the land of NICU.