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United Nations of Kansas at Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU

When Shannon Boranyan and her husband, Olik, of Overland Park welcomed tiny son Yuri into the world on March 11, they had no idea they would soon join an international contingent of parents at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU. Five weeks later, they’re been in good company with fellow moms and dads who have represented countries from France to Germany, Iraq to Sudan, Brazil to Mexico and Guatemala to Olik’s native Russia.

“Olik was born in a small Russian village,” says Shannon, who visits Yuri for hours every day. “He moved to the U.S. when he was 12.”

The Boranyan’s took a cue from Russian history when they named Yuri—whose original due date was April 1—after the  famed Russian pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first human to journey into space on April 1, 1961.

“It just seemed appropriate,” says the first-time mom of Yuri’s special name. “And of course, with April Fool’s Day—our Yuri played the best April Fool’s joke possible by coming three weeks early."

Boranyan says the staff—from custodial to support staff to nurses and physicians—are accommodating and compassionate on the NICU floor.

“Really, we’re all one big family, no matter where we’re from, when it comes down to it,” she says. “We are a united nation here."

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