Eight-month-old Axle Lensky was dealt a difficult hand right from the start.

Born prematurely at just 24 weeks gestation as one in a set of identical triplets, he found himself in the Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with his parents, North and Kara Lensky, at his side.

He weighed in at 1 pound, 2 ounces.

“It was scary and overwhelming when he was born,” Axle’s mom, Kara, said. “We had three premature babies to worry about and knew the risk of having triplets and them being so tiny.”

Axle’s brother, Bison, passed away two days after birth, and his other brother, Cashten, made it almost an entire week.

Fast forward eight months and Axle weighs a whopping 12 pounds, 8 ounces, and is healthy and thriving. To add to the enjoyment, he and his family will be heading home soon after the months-long stay in the NICU.

To celebrate his achievements and impending graduation, the Child Life team at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital decided to throw a luau in his hospital room.

Music therapist Bridget Sova grooved out to the Beach Boys, strumming her guitar as Axle listened attentively to “Surfin USA.”

Angie Maynard, a Child Life specialist, organized the party.

“We try to find fun themes for events, and it’s summertime,” she said. “We had a grass skirt tablecloth, so we went from there and came up with a Luau party in the NICU.”

The team handed out colorful leis to team members and Hawaiian flowers for Mom, Dad, Grandma and the nursing team on the floor.

“He deserves a party,” Kara said. “He’s worked so hard to get to this point.”

Doctors and nurses say that his progress is due in large part to his parents’ commitment and care. At times, the team had to urge his parents to take a break, to take care of themselves.

“I love this,” said Axle’s grandmother, Michelle Lensky. “It’s the culmination of support, ups and downs, and essentially ending in pure joy and celebration for my family.”

Axle sported sunglasses and jammed out to tunes while enjoying his special celebration.

Truly a team effort, his dad even drew palm trees on the door and windows while the Child Life team set up a mini-inflatable pool complete with beach toys.

“We’re excited and a little nervous to introduce him to the world,” Axle’s dad, North, said.

Born and staying the hospital during the pandemic, Axle has so many family members who are ready to meet him.

“He’s the cutest little guy in the world,” said Mitchell DeJonge, MD, neonatologist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “Axle has been through an incredible amount in the NICU, and he has come through due to his parents being such amazing advocates. We wish them all the best in the future.”

North said the care team has become their second family.

“Leaving here is going to be very hard,” he said. “It’s going to be strange. We have always had people here with us that we can rely on and ask questions. We’re going to miss it here.”

Axle is a happy baby and curious about the activities around him.

“He’s a strong fighter, a miracle to be honest,” Kara said.

“And Axle says ‘Good idea for having a party!’” North joked as the team let Axle relax and nap after enjoying his first luau.