CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit(NICU) staff hosted an event Saturday for the families of former patients. The reunion, held at Fontaine Research Park, honored the brave families and employees.

Shamika Smith’s son Roman was treated at the UVA Children's Hospital. "He was in the NICU for ten months. He was born with premature lungs, he had to come home with a trache and he was on the ventilator."

Roman’s condition improved immensely during his stay in the NICU. 

"He was off the vent about four months after he came home and he recently got his trake out a year ago," said Shamika Smith.

Hospital employees, like NICU Nurse Manager Rachel Nauman, also looked forward to the event. 

"It’s so wonderful to see these babies that you spent so much time with thriving and growing and doing well. It's a very emotional day. It's super rewarding for everyone here and it's just a way that the University of Virginia's Children Hospital honors these special people," said Nauman. 

Brandon Smith, Roman’s father, was grateful to have support from others going through the same struggles. "It means a lot to meet other moms and other families that visited and came close with while we were up here so and seeing all the people that took care of Roman and Olivia, means a lot." 

The reunion happens every two years.

"This is our second family. All of these people have a very special place in our hearts and as long as we are here on this earth we will be at this NICU reunion," said Shamika Smith.

Each year, the UVA Children Hospital helps more than 700 children survive.