"Oh my God, I can't believe this is happening to me." Mary Anderson remembers her ordeal like it was yesterday.
"I wasn't feeling the greatest, but I wasn't sure why. I was only 24 weeks. I came home and before you know it, I was back in the hospital in premature labor," said Anderson.
Courtney was born on July 23, 1996, four months before expected, weighing one pound and seven ounces...small enough to fit in her mother's hand. The new baby stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Marquette General Hospital for three months under constant supervision.
The biggest complication that premature infants face is respiratory issues. With newer medications that help infants breath better, they have a greater chance of survival.
Courtney's aunt, Beth Bray, was there and says the staff gave enormous support. "The care that they give is beautiful to watch, even though we couldn't hold her or touch her. To watch people who really truly cared, care for her," said Bray.
Jennifer Farnsworth, one of the many nurses who watched over Courtney, says there's a new NICU with better technology.
"Things that have come along since she's been born--we now have here high frequency ventilation. We also have inhaled nitric oxide that we're able to use for respiratory issues in infants," said Farnsworth.
Now a freshman in high school and a cheerleader, Courtney is living a healthy active life. To celebrate her sweet sixteenth birthday, she's reuniting with hospital staff that cared for her. They toured the new unit, and for Courtney's father, it was like reliving the past.
"Just remembering when she was in there, how small she was and now seeing some of the other babies that are there, too. Knowing what Courtney went through, being out only after 24 weeks," said Brian Anderson.
Overcoming all that she's endured, Courtney aspires to get involved in the medical field.
"I want to go to graduate college and hopefully be in the medical field somewhere, maybe taking care of preemies like me," said Anderson.