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photo A Chance to Grow
By Claire Marie Panke

In this remarkable documentary, an experienced nurse gives viewers a special perspective on what infants, parents and staff go through in the newborn intensive care unit, or NICU. Within this unique world, critically ill and premature infants receive a level of high-tech care never before possible. Medical professionals work miracles on these fragile, new lives. But often lost amidst the cascade of technology are the tiny patients themselves, and their overwhelmed, bewildered parents, who find themselves thrust into an alien world. Their expectations of a joyful first encounter with their child have been shattered, and they have no idea of what to expect for the future. It is an experience which affects more and more families in the United States.

A Chance to Grow follows three families as they navigate their unpredictable course through the NICU. Their gripping personal stories demonstrate the capacity of ordinary individuals to adapt to crises with extraordinary grace and courage. The program explores the complex ethical issues surrounding modern neonatal care, including multiple births and the borders of survival outside the womb. At the same time, it reveals the dedication, compassion and teamwork of the nurses, physicians and other professionals who care for these tiny patients. It will both educate and inspire viewers, and will be an invaluable tool for introducing students and clinicians to the human realities of modern neonatal care.

Filmmaker Claire Marie Panke has spent more than ten years on the frontlines as a nurse in the NICU, and was chosen as Maternal-Child Nurse of the Year by the Greater New York March of Dimes. This program was broadcast by the Discovery Channel under the title "A Baby's Battle for Life."

53 minutes
© 2000
Purchase $248 DVD
Order No. QA-317
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-875-8
close captioned

"Every family who enters the NICU passes through an invisible wall. On one side is the rest of the world, the world as those families once knew it. On the other side is Planet NICU. It was very hard to describe the intensity of that environment to people who had never been there. I wish they could have seen your movie." Elizabeth Mehren, author of Born Too Soon

"Groundbreaking in its approach to a difficult subject." Carole Kenner, RNC, DNS, President, National Association of Neonatal Nurses

"The video succeeds equally well at showing the gifts/skills of the nurses, doctors and technicians who balance the reality of what is possible and stressors of their job and do it all with a sense of compassion and hope. Highly Recommended." MC Journal

"This is and excellent production. Its approach to the parents and professionals involved is intimate without being intrusive and never seems staged." Science Books & Films

"Traces the often thin line between life and death in the aftermath of birth.." Catholic New York

Awards & Conference Screenings
CINE Golden Eagle
American Academy of Nursing Media Awards
Featured at DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Columbus Intl. Film Festival
Featured by International Childbirth Education Assn.

Related Films
Dreams and Dilemmas: Follows a couple and their premature twins during six months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as it explores ethical dilemmas raised by advances in neonatal medicine.

In Our Midst: Neonatal intensive care units save thousands of infant lives each year. This film profiles a family whose children are all "graduates" of the NICU, and explores the impact of medical technology on their lives.

There Was a Child: Sensitively demonstrates the impact that losing a pregnancy, or the birth of a stillborn child, has had on three mothers and a father.

24/7: Profiles two families exhausted by the struggle to provide all day, every day care for their developmentally disabled adult children at home, while simultaneously battling for the help and resources they need. How long can they do it alone?


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website