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The Burrows sisters, Tiffany and Brittany, have more in common than having the same parents.

They have paid a price for coming into the world early. But they are doing well now, and their parents give Kaleida Health's Children's Hospital much of the credit.

"I think they're great," Stacey Burrows said of the hospital staff. "The nurses in the (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) never sugar-coat anything but tell it the way it is. Sometimes that's not what parents want to hear, and they not only have to take care of the babies, but deal with the parents."

Burrows and her husband, Mike, who live with their daughters in the Wyoming County community of Bliss, have spent many hours at the hospital over the past seven years and observed a lot.

The staff not only performs its duties well, but also goes out of its way to provide the extras, she said.

She remembers one nurse in particular who cared for Brittany. "She would snuggle and love her. You could tell she really and truly cared about her," Burrows said.

Tiffany, now 7, was born 11 weeks premature. She weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces and had to spend five days on a ventilator because her tiny lungs weren't functioning properly.

She had a tube down her throat until she learned to suck and swallow.

She spent two months in the hospital and even at home had to wear a monitor at night for three months because she sometimes would stop breathing, a condition known as sleep apnea.

Tiffany slept in her parents' room, and some nights the monitor would go off four or five times. Usually it was a false alarm, but on several occasions she was not breathing, was starting to turn a grayish color and had to be gently prompted to start breathing again, her mother recalled.

She still undergoes some physical and occupational therapy because her muscle tone isn't quite where it should be but otherwise is doing fine.

"She runs around with the rest of the kids (in the first grade at Letchworth Central School), and you would never know (of her previous difficulties) by looking at her," her mother said.

Brittany, now 4, had a tougher time after she was born 13 weeks early at a minuscule 1 pound, 15 ounces. She spent almost four months in the hospital, including two months on a ventilator.

"It was touch and go for a while," her mother said. "I called one night to check on her and was told she was not doing well, so we went right in and stayed with her."

Even after the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Brittany had to spend three weeks in Preemieland, its step-down unit.

At home she, too, needed a sleep monitor because of apnea and has been back in the hospital four times, three times for surgery -- including open heart surgery to correct a hole between the two chambers of the heart -- and once for a severe asthma attack.

She has outgrown many of her problems but continues to use a walker because of stiff muscles in her legs.

She is assigned a full-time aide in the Little Learners developmental kindergarten in Letchworth schools, and her mother is optimistic that someday she will walk on her own.

"But it's unlikely that she'll ever walk normally," she said.

Brittany has a bit of an attitude.

"She's so smart, and she wants to get up and run with the rest of the kids, and she gets frustrated because she can't. She's got a temper and pushes herself," her mother said.

The girls are typical sisters -- one minute playing together and the next fighting over a television show.

But most of all, their mother said, "They are a joy."

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