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People Behind the Products: The Giraffe Dad

Brayden

Brayden Mills was born almost 8 weeks early and was placed in a GE Giraffe OmniBed.

Mike

Mike Mills and his son in Howard County General Hospital’s NICU.

This is Brayden. On August 17th, 2011, he was born at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, Maryland at only 32 weeks and two days, nearly eight weeks early.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), one in every eight children is born prior to their expected due date. But Brayden is a lucky boy. His father is Mike Mills, the Manufacturing Leader in charge of making GE Healthcare’s Giraffe and Panda neonatal products, which are used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) around the world.

“It was the longest five weeks of my life” said Mike, “I can talk about the amazing things that the products we make do, but it’s completely different when it’s happening to you.”

When a baby is so small, every day counts. Just before he was born, hospital personnel told his parents that he might not be able to breathe, and might have to be put on a respirator. “When he was born, he actually came out crying. I could hear him crying. That was one of the most emotional moments. My wife and I looked at each other with relief. We knew the likelihood that he probably wouldn’t (breathe) because that doesn’t happen for another week or two. For him to be doing that on his own, for us, that was remarkable. I kind of knew, from that moment, that everything would be ok.”

When Brayden was born he was quickly laid in a Panda Warmer, and then transferred into the NICU. He was then placed in a Giraffe OmniBed to be monitored, which was something that relieved Mike’s worries: “I can’t explain how happy I was that he was in an OmniBed, which is not only a GE product but top of the line. You don’t understand the value of this until you have to use it.”

Mike’s experience with these products helped him cope with the situation and see the equipment in action: “Our products are one of the only ones that allow the hospital to leave the baby in the same bed, rather than moving them from a warmer to an incubator. With a regular incubator you have to take them out into an open environment. Every time you touch a baby, they don’t like it. So the more care you can provide without moving the baby, the better. Our products are great at this. I saw the nurses manipulating the OmniBed. With the touch of a button, and without touching the baby, the lid opens up and they can drop down the doors. They had complete access to the baby without moving him.”

“Every time an alarm or a beep went off it would frighten my wife. She’d look around for help, and I’d say" It’s OK, I’ve heard this beep before in tests.” Mike’s know-how earned him a new nickname on the neonatal intensive care ward: “They called me the Giraffe Dad”.

Giraffe and Panda products are exported all over the world, and the team is proud of their work. “I knew how the products worked and who made them.¨ Mike's experience came full circle when he became one of the parents of a child needing the product he helps build." Working as part of the team that created it makes me very proud of the work we do."

Mike’s advice for people in a similar situation is to take it one day at a time and trust the professionals. “You can read a lot of stuff on the internet, and you can read a lot of peoples’ opinions on the internet, but at the end of the day you have to trust the neonatologists and the nurses.”

Brayden

Brayden was placed in an open OmniBed for a week.