Born at just 29 weeks with many genetic issues, baby Axel Winch was going to need a miracle in order to survive. Without the necessary equipment to care for him in his hometown, he was flown almost 300 miles away to Children’s Hospital Colorado to be treated in the NICU.
Axel’s parents, Melissa and Adam Winch, stayed with their baby for months in the hospital. Their “mystery baby” baffled doctors who were unable to pinpoint what was wrong with him.
The preemie died numerous times in his parents’ arms, and his nurses saved his life multiple times. Baby Axel proved time and time again that miracles are possible.
So it was naturally heartbreaking when his parents had to return to work so many miles away from him. Melissa works as a police officer, and Adam is a former officer who owns his own business.
“I cried not all the way home, but majority of the way home. It’s terrible,” Melissa said of having to leave her baby in the hospital.
The parents had no idea when — or if — they would get to hold their baby again. That’s when the Aurora Police Department stepped in. An officer had a child being treated at the same Children’s Hospital, and connected with the Winch family.
The Aurora PD wanted to set up a ‘cuddle watch’ for Axel. “I didn’t want him to be alone,” said Sgt. Mike Pitrusu, who runs Aurora PD’s Employee Support and Wellness unit.
Sgt. Pitrusu set up the ‘cuddle watch,’ and had officers sign up for times to go and visit with Axel.
While mom and dad were hard at work or unable to be with him, nearly 20 officers cuddled with the baby. The officers also visited with the family, helped raise money for them, and even opened their homes to them.
Sgt. Pitrusu said it was not only beneficial for Axel, but also for the officers. And the Aurora PD says this is the start of a lifelong friendship with the Winch family.
After months in the hospital, the family experienced yet another miracle. They could finally take Axel home. Now his parents say that Axel always wants to be held — and they gladly oblige.
Although his future remains unclear, the Winch family is grateful that he is happy and healthy. “God bless the Aurora Police Department,” Adam said in a Facebook post after finally being able to bring Axel home. “God answers prayer and performs impossible miracles, now and forever.”
Now it looks like the officers of APD will need a new baby to cuddle and comfort. “We almost need to set up a cuddle watch for Children’s Hospital, just give the opportunity to come in and take care of the little ones,” Sgt. Pitrusu said.
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