Jesse spent the following 27 days at NRGH NICU, all the while Sheri and Mike built bonds with the NICU nurses as they shared stories and discussed the needs of the Unit. It felt like family. At the forefront of the nurses’ consideration were the needs of their tiny patients. The supportive “team orientation” of NICU was hard to leave, but it was a blissful day in the Shanahan household when Jesse, 5 weeks old and four days old, was discharged from hospital after passing every necessary test. It was a Friday, May 24th. The following week, May 31st, Jesse unexpectedly passed away.
Sheri and Mike are now taking steps to show their appreciation to those who helped Jesse during her journey. Sheri explains, “Paramedics, critical care paramedics, and respiratory therapists – are very important in helping care for people and it seems like they get lost in the shuffle after all is said and done. You forget, or don't recognize, these two professions came and did their jobs and then carried on to help others. They truly are amazing. The ER and NICU nurses, the paediatrician, ER doctors, respiratory therapist, and paramedics went above and beyond.” Although Sheri is also a nurse, as a patient she is now fully aware of the significance of a nurse’s role, “I cannot believe how important this career is. You don’t realize it until you are on the other side, and you are so grateful that everybody is so well trained and how well everything comes together.” The young family continues to be moved by the outpouring of empathy from “friends and family, but also strangers in the public are helping, people we do not even know.”
The Shanahans are now channeling this flood of empathy into something good and they are determined to honour their daughter’s spirit. Jesse’s name means “gift”. As a gesture of gratitude, and to help parents facing similar situations, the family has established a fund called simply “Jesse’s Gift”; it was Sheri’s mother Darlene Ridgway who suggested the name.
Jesse’s Gift is a fund that will help purchase a new $60,000 Central Monitoring System for the NRGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Shelley McKenzie, the Clinical Manager who oversees NICU, said “The Central Monitor will allow nurses to effectively monitor sick and fragile babies from one central location; this is in addition to current bedside monitoring. This equipment will enhance the level of excellent service that NICU babies already receive.” NRGH has a Level 2 NICU for babies in need of complex care; BC Children’s Hospital, in comparison, is a Level 3. NRGH has nine NICU beds, which are 80% full on average at all times; patients arrive from across Vancouver Island and the province, seeking care.
At Jesse’s celebration of life the family asked that people make donations towards the purchase of the Central Monitor rather than sending flowers or cards. In one day they raised almost $5,000. Encouraged by the response Sheri and Mike, with extensive help from family and friends, are inviting others to help fund Jesse’s Gift for the purchase of the Central Monitor. There are several ways to help. The public is welcome to donate online at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2XMjf. Additionally, David and Sarah Gilks of Core Essentials will donate 50% of Wednesday morning Boot Camp revenues, for July and August classes, to Jesse’s Gift; call the studio at 250-390-3160 to register. All three Scotiabank branch locations in Nanaimo are accepting donations for Jesse’s Gift and donations can also be mailed to the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation at 102 – 1801 Bowen Road, Nanaimo BC, V9S 1H1 or made online at www.nanaimohospitalfoundation.com/donate (enter “Jesse’s Gift” in the online comments field to earmark the gift). Additionally, the Hospital Foundation will match donations for the Central Monitor up to $30,000, 50% of the total. Any donations contributed by the public to the Foundation for “Jesse’s Gift” will be attributed to the family’s fundraising efforts. Jesse’s Gift has already raised more than $12,000 to date, and support continues to pour in.
The Shanahans have been amazed by the level of support they have received and are quick to express their deep gratitude to each person who has helped them through this difficult time. They are also determined to make Jesse’s Gift a legacy of compassion that will help purchase the Central Monitor System, but also continue beyond this primary goal and into the future in honour of Jesse.