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Star Party Celebrations: Giving Back to UC San Diego’s Women and Infants Services

Program offers a unique way to help others while celebrating important milestones

Nina and Rodolfo Ocio celebrate Baby Enzo’s first birthday with a Star Party and hope to continue the tradition for his second birthday.

Enzo Ocio, a premature baby born 1 pound, 10 ounces at only 25 weeks, spent four and a half months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of California, San Diego Health System in Hillcrest. He was put on life support, suffered from multiple infections and struggled to eat on his own without the help of a feeding tube. Today, due in large part to the early care he received from the UC San Diego NICU’s nurses and doctors, Enzo Ocio is a happy and healthy toddler.

As a symbol of their gratitude to UC San Diego Health System’s Women and Infants Services, his parents, Nina and Rodolfo Ocio, hosted a “Star Party” in honor of their son’s first birthday. At a Star Party, invited guests are asked to make a donation to Women and Infants Services in lieu of gifts. The program provides parents and families a unique way to celebrate an important event in their child’s life, give back to the NICU staff and help other families currently going through the same traumatic experience. A Star Party can be hosted by anyone from a new mother to a grandparent and can celebrate a variety of occasions, such as birthdays, baptisms and baby showers.

“Our friends and family who were so supportive during the experience in the NICU came to our Star Party—even some of Enzo’s nurses,” said Nina Ocio. “It was much more gratifying to us and our guests to know that we were giving back to the NICU to help others, rather than giving Enzo gifts.”

Rodolfo Ocio, father, holding his son’s hands.

Star Party guests can choose to have their gifts benefit the NICU, Birth Center or a general fund that supports UC San Diego Health System’s Women and Infants Services. Donations help purchase breast pumps and feeding equipment for new mothers, rocking and reclining chairs for mothers and newborns and additional items of comfort. They also support educational programs for patients, nurses and staff.

“Star Party donations enable us to enhance the education of our nursing staff so we can give the best possible care to our babies and their families,” explained Mary Hackim, RN, MSN, director of Women and Infants Services.  “Here, experienced and highly trained individuals give that care with compassion, love and understanding, not just for the baby but for the whole family. To be able to make a difference everyday is a pretty powerful thing.”

Women and Infants Services includes the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Labor and Delivery, the Family Maternity Care Center, Women’s Special Care and the Birth Center.  These areas provide 24-hour specialized care to women and their infants, in a family-focused way, where high-tech and high-touch come together to give care to mothers and infants.

To learn more about hosting a Star Party or donating to the program, visit the Star Party Program website or call (858) 534-5371.