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Parents of premature infant show perspective of spending holidays at local hospital

Posted at 10:34 PM, Dec 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-30 23:34:56-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Joyse Salzone and Tyler Dunlap's miracle came early. Their baby, Saint, was born on Oct. 18, 2022 — three months before his anticipated due date.

"The universe had other plans," his mother said.

Since his birth, Saint hasn't experienced life outside of the hospital. He's been battling health complications because he was born prematurely.

At two months old, he weighed only three pounds and four ounces.

"He was having a lot of gut problems and he got transferred from our delivering hospital to Driscoll Children's Hospital about a month after he was born," Salzone explained.

The couple had to spend their first holiday season as a family at the Ronald McDonald House of Corpus Christi and Driscoll Children's Hospital. Saint stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

When his parents aren't around him physically, they watch him on a livestream provided by the hospital.

Salzone and Dunlap moved to Ingleside about six months ago from Seattle, Wash.

Saint became a Texas native and was born after the couple moved. Due to the commute and circumstances, the Ronald McDonald House of Corpus Christi took the couple in to help them get through the challenging times.

The Ronald McDonald House provides families a home-away-from-home and a place of solace to heal together.

"It's nice to be surrounded by so many people that understand the challenges of having a child in the hospital, and we're very grateful for the fact that's there so much generosity." Salzone said.

The couple had more to be thankful for during the holiday season, after they received a touching gift.

On Thanksgiving, they were able to hold Saint for the first time. For about a month of his life, the couple couldn't hold him because he was small and fragile.

The family also spent Christmas at the Ronald McDonald House. They said despite the circumstances, there was no shortage of holiday spirit, and they learned home is truly where the heart is.

"To be honest we didn't know how to maintain the holidays in such a strange environment. The staff over at Driscoll and the staff at Ronald McDonald have been amazing in making us feel like we're home and we're very supported," the mother said.

As the New Year approaches, the two said they have a positive outlook. They hope Saint will be out of the hospital by the end of January and after that, they want to bring him to baseball games.

"Aside from having our family meet him, we're taking things day-by-day and seeing where the road takes us." Salzone said.

To learn more about the Ronald McDonald House or to donate click here.