18-year-old returns to the NICU he was born in—and he comes to say thank you and give back

A young man who’s learned of the great treatment both he and his mother received at his birth in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has decided to give back in a heartfelt way.

Eighteen years ago, after Cathy Cicero gave birth to her son, Zach, at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago at 25 weeks into her pregnancy, her premature baby had to stay in the NICU at the hospital for three and a half months.

Those few months were not easy for Cicero, but she still managed to bond with her newborn son.

“I would read to him, I would play music for him … We would sit in the rocking chair and just talk,” Cicero told WLS.

Zach was finally discharged from the hospital. Fast-forward to 18 years later, he is now healthy and is currently a senior at St. Patrick High School.

©YouTube Screenshot | ABC 7 Chicago

As he is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout, which requires him to work on a community service project, Zach decided to do something for the hospital.

He and his friends built four new rocking chairs and donated them to the NICU at Saint Joseph Hospital.

With his mom accompanying him, Zach returned to the hospital to donate the rocking chairs, which resembled the one his mom had sat in to bond with him just after his birth.

“I just had to come back and help out the people that helped me,” he explained.

“This is like a homecoming,” Cicero said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here with Zachary.”

©YouTube Screenshot | ABC 7 Chicago

After Zach carried in the chairs, he soon noticed that one was already being used by a new mom and her newborn baby girl—a similar scene that happened 18 years ago with Zach and his mom.

“It’s not something you could like prepare yourself for,” he said. “One of the best moments of my life, I can tell you that.”

The hospital staff later threw a party for Zach’s 18th birthday, complete with a cake. The 18-year-old will start college at Concordia University Chicago this year, and intends to join the football team.

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