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Preemie Soars Above the Odds

“My mom always tells me how little I was,” says Shantelle Kovacic. “At 2 lbs., even the little hats that the volunteers knit using oranges were too big for my head.”

Shantelle Kovacic, 4 years old, at a Mount Sinai Hospital Christmas party for former NICU patients
Shantelle Kovacic, 4 years old, at a Mount Sinai Hospital Christmas party for former NICU patients
Shantelle, now 26, works as a commercial pilot
Shantelle, now 26, works as a commercial pilot

Her mom also recalls how the Hospital staff were caring, thorough and delivered the very best care, even finding time to reassure her that everything would be fine.

And they were right.

Twenty-six years later, the baby born at Mount Sinai Hospital prematurely at 26 weeks is a healthy and happy young woman pursuing her dream as a commercial pilot.

Shantelle has heard the story of her birth often. Her mother went into premature labour and was brought to Mount Sinai Hospital on a Sunday; she gave birth to Shantelle the following Friday. The tiny baby then spent a week at Mount Sinai before being transferred to a hospital closer to home.

In spite of her early arrival, Shantelle says, “I had no complications at birth and have grown up healthy and strong. I really believe that the care you receive when you’re born impacts your quality of life for the rest of your life.”

When she was four years old, Shantelle returned to Mount Sinai for a Christmas party celebrating ‘graduates’ of the Valentine Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A beaming Shantelle was photographed for a Toronto Star article describing how advances in technology and new centres like Mount Sinai’s have allowed more preemies to lead normal lives.

Shantelle says that her and her family will forever be grateful to Mount Sinai for the excellent care they received. Her family now lives in Vancouver, but whenever Shantelle and her mother return to Toronto they always make a point of driving down University Avenue to see the Hospital. Shantelle’s mom even hopes that one day her grandchildren will be born at Mount Sinai.

For the moment, Shantelle is focusing on her career as a pilot. She knows just how important her health is. “Every year I have to have a special aviation medical in order to keep my pilot’s license and if I don’t pass, I can’t continue to fly,” she says. “I think that where I was born and the doctors I had were the foundation for my great health.”



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