HOUSTON (KTRK) --Baby Kemp is a little over a week old. His arrival was a bit of a surprise, to say the least.
"It was quite unexpected. He decided that Election Day was a better birthday than Christmas day," Kemp's mother Whitney Kubik told ABC13.
She says he was born six weeks premature, and spent the first week of his life in the NICU.
"It was hard to go home without my baby -- go home to an empty nursery and it really sank in. But I know he's getting really great care here," Whitney said.
To celebrate his future trip home, mom and son were the very first ones to walk through a special doorway. It was created by a group of parents who all had babies in the NICU at Texas Children's.
According to Texas Children's Senior Vice President Cris Daskevich, "It's also allowing families to walk through the door symbolizing the end of their journey in the Neonatal ICU."
The premature statistics are alarming, with more than 380,000 babies in the United States that are born prematurely. That's one in 10 births. Around the world, a total of 15 million babies are born too soon each year.
Right here in Houston, Texas Children's has the largest NICU in the nation, caring for more than 2,500 babies each year. That's why everyone here says today is so important.
Daskevich said, "This is the sixth annual World Prematurity Day, and it's a day to increase awareness and advocacy about the leading cause of death of babies ages zero to five."
As for being the first through the doorway, Whitney says is was an honor.
"And I'm excited because it means that Kemp gets to go home soon," the new mom explained.
Daskevich is the 2017 Chairwoman for the March for Babies Walk in Houston on April 23, 2017. The walk raises funds to support programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies, and funds research to find causes and prevention.
The World Prematurity Day event was in partnership with the March of Dimes. They brought special handwritten cards and notes for the NICU families.