A Rough Beginning
Fear and excitement. When Anna Johnson’s doctor told her she would need an emergency C-section to save her unborn child’s life, her emotions were mixed. She and husband Greg had struggled to conceive, but had persisted. When the good news finally came, they believed Anna’s pregnancy was a miracle – but now, it seemed, all they could do was pray for a safe delivery for their premature baby. “We went to Hoops Family Children’s Hospital for the birth,” Anna recalled. “After my Cesarean delivery, the doctor held up our baby – a surprise boy! – then whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I saw him just for a few seconds. I couldn’t hold him. It was so hard…”
Unfortunately, due to complications of her own, including another surgery, Anna didn’t even see her baby for another 36 hours. Her challenge was a recovery that took weeks. That left Greg to work alone with the NICU team in caring for tiny Russell.
“That was really stressful for me,” Greg admits. “I was an only child…I’d never even HELD a baby before! If it wasn’t for the patience and concern of those NICU nurses, I don’t know how I ever would have managed.”
Facing New Challenges
While Anna’s recovery was slow, baby Russell’s was even slower. Born more than six weeks premature, his tiny lungs needed time to develop, and he was at risk of jaundice and other complications. His first days and weeks were spent almost entirely in an incubator. Nevertheless, Greg learned to change diapers, to change feeding tubes and to know which buttons to push on various monitors attached to their tiny son.
Anna could visit in a wheelchair, and could cradle Russell in her arms. But she was still so weak she needed a nursing pillow to give him support.
“I was so proud of Greg,” Anna beams, “because he stepped up to do everything during our stay at Hoops. But I really have to credit the staff at the Hospital for walking with us through what was a tremendous challenge, not just while we were in the hospital, but even after we brought Russell home.”
Adjusting to a New Way of Life
As first-time parents, Greg and Anna are overjoyed to see the progress Russell has made. At just over nine months, he is every bit the healthy, bouncing baby boy. The Johnsons realized quickly how thankful they were for the medical team at Hoops family Children’s Hospital to help them through the challenging birth.
“We are so grateful for the way they walked with us every step of the way,” said Greg. “I was practically helpless when we went in for Anna’s surgery and delivery. But when we walked out to bring Russell home, I felt confident and secure in the knowledge that we could do this – we could be the parents that our baby needs us to be.”
Anna nodded in agreement. “We were so blessed, we just had to give back to help others in the community who may need the kind of help we received. That’s why we decided then and there to become members of the Medallion Society.”
Giving Back and Making a Difference
The Medallion Society provides a special opportunity for people to give, serve and make a difference. Longtime friends of the Hospital, David and LaVern Meadows birthed the idea for the Medallion Society to encourage people to engage in regular giving. Today, their idea has blossomed into a dynamic and thriving giving program that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people across central Appalachia. Members of the Medallion Society continue to be the dedicated support network behind the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital and other major projects within the Mountain Health System.
“We’re happy to be members,” Anna beamed. “Every time I hold Russell, I’m reminded that he is a precious, heavenly gift. And without the special care WE received from the staff at Hoops, I don’t know how we would have made it. That’s why Greg and I want to pay it forward through the Medallion Society. We’ll be members for life!”
For more information how you might help others in the tri-state region as a member of The Medallion Society, please contact Kristi Arrowood at Kristi.Arrowood@chhi.org or click here for more information: Medallion Society – Mountain Health Network Foundations (mountainhealthfoundations.org)
To learn more about the Darby Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital, click here: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – Hoops Family Children’s Hospital – Huntington, WV (hoopschildrens.org)