Santa delivers Christmas magic to babies in the NICU with special visit

"It was really special to know they care," said mom Amy Sparks.

— -- More than 20 preemies in the NICU at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, got a magical visit from Santa ahead of the holidays.

“It’s really special because you can’t take your little guys or girls to see Santa,” Amy Sparks, a mom to twins who were born 10 weeks early, told ABC News. “I was really bummed we weren’t going to be able to do that and get their first Christmas holiday picture done with Santa. Then we came in and the NICU had arranged it and set up a time and everything. It was really special to know they care and they know it’s something that the parents need.”

It can be difficult for families to spend Christmas in the hospital with their baby, but Sparks said these little gestures were “really special.”

“It was great,” she said. “Santa was fantastic. He was the real deal Santa. He had a real long white beard and he had the character boots and the embroidery on his Santa suit was gorgeous.”

The hospital printed the photos of Santa with each child as a keepsake for the families.

“We want to show them we really care in the holiday season and want to make their day a little brighter,” said Rebecca Jensen, a marketing specialist for the hospital.

She said these small celebrations during the holidays “give them a little break from what could be a scary situation.”

“These are tough times. It’s so hard to have your child in the hospital,” said Jensen. “To be able to have a photo with Santa for their very first Christmas is very special. Our patients are No. 1 in everything we do. This is a beautiful, fun way to highlight that, and our staff loves it too.”

Hurley Medical Center has the only level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in a three-county region. It currently has 28 babies in the NICU, but Jensen said hospital staff cares for 800 to 1,000 babies each year who are born prematurely or with medical issues.