This article, authored by Jennifer E. Edwards, mother of CMN Hospitals' 2013 Florida Champions Jack and Luke, was originally featured on The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood webpage.
In the past six years, I've experienced the importance of quality pediatric care. My sons are two shining reminders of how community support can directly impact the lives of hospitalized children.
Born at just 30 weeks -- 10 weeks ahead of schedule -- my twin boys Jack and Luke each weighed barely more than two and a half pounds.
Jack wasn't surrounded by amniotic fluid while I was carrying him, so his lungs didn't develop properly -- a condition called pulmonary hypoplasia. After birth, he underwent blood transfusions, supplemental oxygen and respiratory therapy.
Luke was born with an underdeveloped nervous system that couldn't regulate his breathing. This meant he would sometimes "forget" to breathe, causing his heart to stop.
You can only imagine how scary this time was for my family and me. The Wolfson Children's Hospital NICU team in our region worked tirelessly for eight long weeks to help my boys make what one nurse called "the most remarkable turnaround ever seen." Silence pervaded many of those first memories with my sons, so those words now feel like music to my husband and my ears.
Jack and Luke were able to return home within one week of each other, just in time for the holiday season in 2007. I remember crying when doctors told me Jack would have to come home with an oxygen tank, but my husband said, "Yes, but he is coming home." That moment was an epiphany for me and reminded me to continually focus on how far they had come rather than how far they still had to go.
Although so much of those next few months were a blur since we were putting all of our energy into surviving, it was worth it.
Before my kids were treated at a Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital, I never knew how much financial support children's hospitals actually needed. As it turns out, it's a lot. I felt it firsthand, as CMN Hospitals' donated funds helped purchase the preemie transporter used to take Jack and Luke to the NICU immediately after they were born.
My member hospital certainly wasn't the only one to help preemies through a rough start at life. The majority of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals house a specialized neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Every day 925 babies are treated in the newborn ICU at one of the 170 North American member hospitals, according to the impact data provided annually by each of these hospitals. That's a lot of hope, healing and specialized care.
And, every year, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals treat 10 million kids from day 0 to age 18 with a variety of illnesses and injuries, according to impact data. These children require specialized care that relies on unique and varied equipment, therapy, research and treatment. This is often very expensive for a hospital to maintain.
It's amazing how $1 can make a difference in the lives of our newborns. Ultimately, I have every person who has donated even $1 to CMN Hospitals to thank for my sons' miraculous turn around.
Join me today and put your money where the miracles are. CMN Hospitals is currently partnering with Johnson & Johnson's Donate a Photo* program. Simply download the Donate a Photo app on your smartphone, snap a pic and send it in. Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to your charity of choice. Just $1 can provide a blanket to newborn in a Children's Miracle Network Hospital NICU. Blankets are crucial to keeping NICU infants warm as they work to develop and heal their tiny bodies.
So help by snapping a pic. Your photo will directly benefit sick and injured children in your community, just like my sons. By joining together, together we can save and improve kids' lives!
U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the 12 Best Children's Hospitals, and all were members of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.