Skip to Content

Committed to Safety: We are taking all necessary precautions to keep you safe while we care for you. Review all our visitor policies and precautions. Get more information on COVID-19.

Published on March 08, 2017

Women’s Hospital NICU Patient Pays It ForwardLillyAnna Zaleon-Tell

NICU teen gives backFourteen years ago, LillyAnna Zaleon-Tell was born at just 26 weeks gestation. A vibrant teen who gives back to other families with premature babies, she has come a long way since her days in Women’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Today, along with her mother and grandmother, she gives back to other families with NICU babies by sharing her story, helping with events, and sewing diaper burp clothes and changing pads.

After receiving support from Women’s Hospital and Family Support Network (FSN) of Central Carolina, Zaleon-Tell’s mom began volunteering with FSN as a parent council member and mentor. “Even as a toddler, LillyAnna would attend FSN meetings and events with her mother,” said Nancy Micca, FSN’s Director. “You could say we watched her grow up.”

Last August, when LillyAnna was asked to tell her story at a Women’s Hospital event, she jumped at the chance. She thought participating in this event would be the perfect way to celebrate her fourteenth birthday and how far she’s come. “As LillyAnna shared her story – and her birthday with us - there wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” reflected Micca. “LillyAnna’s brave, heartfelt story really spoke to people.”

For Zaleon-Tell, her mother and grandmother, helping Women’s Hospital’s smallest, most vulnerable patients and their families is a way for their family to give back and provide hope. The family brings real tablecloths and fresh flower arrangements along with homemade meals to events. They donate gifts for families, make purple hearts in honor of preemies, and most of all, they are there to inspire families like them.

“At a recent event, a sibling of a NICU infant recognized LillyAnna from a previous event and hugged her tightly,” added Micca. “Seeing LillyAnna thrive was such a reassuring, healing moment.”

Patient Stories

  • Amanda Wallendorf

    When Migraines Won’t Go Away, Ask Why

    It took a stroke before a sheriff’s deputy was able to make the heart-head connection.
    October 14, 2020
  • Weight Loss Surgery: Ron Payne's Journey

    Weight Loss Surgery: Ron Payne's Journey

    Ron well understands why everyone he talked to before having bariatric surgery said they wished they’d had surgery sooner. “I knew I’d done everything I could do to lose weight, and my kids are in the best years of their lives,” he says. “Why would I want to put this off any longer?”
    September 28, 2020
  • Weight Loss Surgery: Jennifer Parker's Journey

    Weight Loss Surgery: Jennifer Parker's Journey

    “Today, after losing more than 100 lbs. in just over a year, I have a confidence and feeling of self-worth that’s completely different than what I’ve had for most of my life,” says Jennifer Parker, 41, of Kings Mountain. “I see such a positive shift in myself that it makes me sad for the old me.”
    September 9, 2020
  • No Weight Too Heavy: A Cancer Patient Lifts Up Others in Need

    No Weight Too Heavy: A Cancer Patient Lifts Up Others in Need

    A fit, active and nutrition-minded single mom in her early 40s, Jennifer Kroll was shocked by her stage 4 metastatic melanoma diagnosis. Remarkably, Jennifer has resolved to live life to the fullest, return to weightlifting and help others. Starting this month, she is lifting weights to raise money for Cone Health cancer patients in need.?
    August 5, 2020