Skip to Content

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.”

More Stories of Exceptional Care

  • Thank You, From One Life Saver to Another

    Thank You, From One Life Saver to Another

    He was at home when the chest pains started. He had seen these symptoms plenty of times throughout his career. He told his wife “we have to go,” and they got in the car.
    November 14, 2018
  • Weight Loss Surgery: New Celebrations, and a New Way to Celebrate

    Weight Loss Surgery: New Celebrations, and a New Way to Celebrate

    After surgery, Robin has kept on track with her weight loss and fitness goals these past two years, losing close to 200 lbs - just a few pounds from her goal weight.
    October 29, 2018
  • Motorcycle Wreck Saves Man’s Life

    Motorcycle Wreck Saves Man’s Life

    After the crash, Charaba was OK, except for his back. He had to spinal fractures. The care team then noticed his aorta was 2.5x larger than normal.
    October 26, 2018
  • Benjamin's Story

    Benjamin's Story

    A head-on collision could have been the end of Benjamin's story - but because of caregivers who were ready to be “right here with you,” Benjamin was given a second chance.
    October 3, 2018