Premature babies released from hospital, heading back to NJ

Posted at 5:10 PM, Dec 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 21:09:09-05

SALT LAKE CITY – After four months in a Utah hospital, a New Jersey family is finally going home together.

Giulianna and Nicolas Levato were born four months early. Since that time they’ve been in the University of Utah’s Newborn ICU. Their parents Danny and Terri have had to travel back and forth to see them.

“It’s hard to be away from them, trying to bond with your children, not being able to be with them. The holidays are coming, being separate,” says Terri.

Terri had severe complications with the couple’s first daughter. But they still wanted more children, so they turned to a surrogate mother based in Utah. Little did they know that surrogate pregnancy would have complications as well.

The twins are well enough to travel, so hospital case manager Mary DeGoff went to work trying to arrange transport. She navigated insurance paperwork, but Monday still lacked three approval signatures.

“It’s been a very difficult process,” says DeGoff. “All I know is, it never hurts to ask.”

Initially, DeGoff says she was told it wouldn’t be possible to get the twins home until after the holidays, and the Levatos began to plan for Christmas without their babies.

Then, Thursday, DeGoff says she took an unexpected call.

“I finally heard, finally,” says DeGoff. “All the barriers were gone and they were actually going to get to go.”

Just 24 hours later, Giulianna and Nicolas, still on oxygen, were buckled up and ready to fly.

“It feels complete,” says Terri. “There’s no words to describe it. It feels that finally I have everything I wanted and there’s nothing better.”

Nicolas will still have to spend time in a hospital in Morristown, the family’s hometown. But Terri says it’s a welcome relief after being separated 2,000 miles from her babies.