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"Mother Touched by Compassionate Care"

Toledo, Ohio - January is a difficult month for Caryn K. On Jan. 17, 2005, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who arrived 11 weeks early and with significant health problems. The baby, named Mary after Caryn's late mother, passed away just nine days later. This year, as these sad anniversaries approached, Caryn wrote a letter to the staff of Labor and Delivery as well as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center and Mercy Childrens Hospital, thanking them for the compassionate care they provided while Caryn and Mary were patients six years ago.

I want you all to know that every year on her birthday, St. V's holds a special place in my heart, she said. Even though Mary died, I know everything possible was done to save her life, and during the nine days she spent in the NICU, I was treated with such dignity and compassion. I can never thank the staff enough and thank you just doesn't begin to cover my feelings.

Caryn's water broke about an hour and a half after she arrived at St. V's via ambulance from Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay.

I have never seen people move so fast, she said. I ended up having to have an emergency C-section. When I saw Mary, my first thought was that she was beautiful. You couldn't even tell at first that she had Down syndrome. Once that became apparent though, one of the nurses, who said she had a child with Down syndrome herself, reassured me that I would be able to handle the added challenges this would bring, saying God only gives special people special kids. Those Labor and Delivery nurses were just awesome they were all so supportive.

Mary was admitted to the NICU, where it soon became obvious that there was something terribly wrong.

Her white blood cells were attacking her lungs and liver, Caryn said. At first they thought she might have leukemia. They did a blood transfusion. They called around to other hospitals in and out of the country. They discussed sending her to another hospital via Life Flight to have surgery and then come back to St. Vs. She didnt live long enough for that though. During the nine days she spent in the NICU, everyone did everything possible to keep us all comfortable. Mary's isolette was located near a set of doors into the NICU, and every time someone came through them, she got upset, and her oxygen levels dropped. So they closed off those doors, and everyone had to walk around to access the NICU a different way they inconvenienced all of those doctors and nurses just to keep my Mary comfortable.

Caryn said it was hard for big brother Zach, who was 5 at the time, to not be able to visit his sister in the NICU.

They explained to him why he couldn't go in, and they made sure he could see her through the window, Caryn said. And they were so good about getting down on his level and including him in the conversation when they talked to us. And they tried to do little things to brighten his day. They gave us coupons for food in the cafeteria, and they gave Zach a teddy bear and would get him popsicles and ice cream. Nurses would say hi to him and call him by name whenever they saw us walking through the hospital these little gestures made the whole experience so much better.

Even as they said their final goodbyes to Mary, Caryn said the NICU physicians and nurses did everything possible to support her family.

It was an amazing experience the way they treated us, Caryn said. It was as if their own child had died. To have people care that much is unreal. I know that what happened was in Gods plan, and that Mary is in heaven with her grandmother. I am grateful for the nine days I had with her, grateful that I got to hold her. I just want other people who lose a child to know that I understand what they are going through, and if they are at St. V's, they are in the best place possible. To experience the level of caring and compassion that we did was just an amazing thing to come out of such a terrible experience.

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