Our daughter Silvana Quinn (Silvie) was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck combined with meconium in her lungs (meconium aspiration). This combination lead to severe PPHN - Persistant Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn; a life-threatening illness. Silvie was transported to Salah Foundation Children's Hospital at Broward Health in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This Level 3 NICU had a team of nurses, doctors and therapists that worked on Silvie day and night.
There were countless sleepless nights where we held our breath until the morning. Intubation, paralysis, oscillator, blood transfusions, ventilators, extubation, c-pap, respiratory therapy, nasal cannula, feeding tubes, steroids, sedation, pain management, withdrawals, learning to feed, Galactosemia issues, MRIs, EEGs, Thrush and the list goes on and on...
I made a promise to both myself and to Silvie "If Silvie survives, I will pay it forward". Throughout December and January Silvie fought for her life and was finally discharged January 31, 2016. The staff was amazing, the nurses were her second mothers and the doctors were miracle workers.
September of 2016, I learned of NICU Awareness Month and remembered my promise to give back. I thought about the holidays being just around the corner and I remembered how horrible it was having our Silvie in the NICU throughout December and January. That is when it hit me, my “give back” would be comfort packages to babies in the NICU during the holidays. Our comfort packages contain items that helped Silvana on her NICU journey and an item that saved her life after she was out of the NICU… her Owlet. The Owlet DreamSock monitors baby's heart rate and oxygen and is a literal lifesaver.
Over the course of three months we raised funds and received product donations. On December 18th, 2016 Silvie Bells gave away 50 Silvie Bells Giftbags to mothers and fathers at Salah Children's Hospital. We shared tears, stories, hugs and a lot of love. My heart changed forever. I knew that Silvie Bells was my calling and that I wanted to make Silvie Bells an annual event and a national event. In 2017 we donated to two hospitals, the following year three hospitals, the year after that five hospitals!
In 2020 when Covid hit, we could no longer donate our holiday comfort packages in-person to hospitals; we needed to make a change. We created an online application process and began shipping our comfort packages to NICU babies across the country all year round! This pivot allowed us to expand our reach and touch more families than we ever imagined.
Silvie Bells Gift Bag Gift List:
• Owlet home pulse-oxygen monitor
• Wubbanub pacifier
• The Keepsie pacifier cover
• Mama-Baby Scent Hearts
• Crocheted NICU Octopus
• Swaddle blanker
• “I Needed The NICU Just Like You” book by Ali Dunn
• “The Preemie Parent's Survival Guide to the NICU” book
by Deb Discenza, Nicole Conn and Alan R. Spitzer, MD
• Welcome Home sign
• NICU Discharge Check List
• Safe Sleep Check List