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 leads to severe PPHN – Persistent 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 to parents with babies in the NICU during the holidays. I would give the parents in our NICU the things that helped us along our journey.
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 four 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. As we approach 2024, Silvie Bells has gifted over a thousand comfort packages across the country to NICU families in need.
Advice for NICU Parents:
The NICU is a difficult road, likely the most difficult road you’ve ever been down… you’ll navigate challenges you never dreamed of and you’ll find strength you didn’t know you had.
Silvie’s current age and milestones:
Learn more about the amazing work Silvie Bells is doing to support NICU families in the Ukraine. PreemieWorld is honored to share the Ukraine Project and the wonderful people who made this all possible. – PreemieWorld
Silvie Bells coordinated an effort to get 650 portable pulse-oxygen monitors to displaced babies in war torn Ukraine.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2032
I read an article about a daring mission to rescue preemie twins from a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in Kyiv. The preemies were transported in vehicles through the thickest parts of the war, a 13-hour trek to the Polish border.
How were the babies monitored? How could the team tell if the babies were breathing? If they were still alive?
Did they have pulse-oximetry monitors in the vehicles?
Silvana had a home pulse-oximetry monitor, an Owlet SmartSock, it alarmed one night at 3am with her oxygen plummeting. Her SmartSock saved her life that night, and she was safe at home; how were these babies being monitored in a war zone?? I couldn’t sleep, I thought about those NICU babies all night.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2032
I awoke to the news that a Maternity and Children’s Hospital had been attacked. Babies were being transported to hotels, houses, underground shelters… None of these places have tech to monitor fragile babies. These babies need portable pulse-ox monitors. There had to be a way for me to get SmartSock pulse-ox monitors to these babies.
I emailed my friends at Owlet, I shared with them my idea:
- My nonprofit Silvie Bells, wants to send 75 SmartSocks to Ukrainian NICU babies
THREE MINUTES LATER…
- The CEO and Co-Founder of Owlet emailed back; “Let’s do it!”
In just three minutes the Owlet team was on board and matched our 75 monitors.
How could I get 150 SmartSocks from the United States to babies in Ukraine? Owlet has distribution centers in Belgium and Prague!
While communicating with the Owlet team; I researched nonprofits doing humanitarian work in Ukraine/Poland. The Global Empowerment Mission (GEM) was on the ground and seemed like the perfect fit for this mission. I emailed GEM; I explained my idea -SmartSock pulse-oximetry monitors to Ukrainian NICU babies.
Majel, with GEM responded: “Thank you so much for organizing this and making this happen. We have directly been contacted from hospitals in Ukraine looking for this exact item so this is really amazing that you have written! These hospitals have absolutely nothing. We have coordinated efforts to get medical supplies, but nothing like this, so we are really grateful.”
With Majel’s response, 150 monitors didn’t seem like enough; I wanted to organize 500.
I reached out to fellow nonprofits that donate SmartSock monitors to babies and by 8pm I secured nearly 450 monitors. A huge thank you to these generous nonprofits that pledged to the cause.
- Just In Case Foundation
- Knox Blox, Lincoln’s Angels
- MAW’s Cause
- The Braelynn & AVERY – Bravery Foundation
- The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation.
In five hours I secured 450 SmartSock monitors, 50 short of my goal. To cover the rest of the SmartSocks, I created a Facebook fundraiser with a $5,000 goal, in just minutes donations began rolling in from across the country.
Thursday, March 10th, 2032
The Owlet U.S. team made arrangements with their European distribution centers in Belgium and Prague, to ship 500 Owlets to the town in Poland where GEM is stationed. Precise locations are confidential, it took coordinating different departments to plan the delivery. By the late afternoon all the dots were connected, and orders were placed to deliver SmartSocks from Prague to Poland and from Belgium to Poland. Later Thursday evening, Amanda with Owlet Communications shared the news that Owlet employees also wanted to donate! This incredible new commitment would bring our total number of monitors up to 650!
Friday, March 11th, 2032
We received word that hundreds of pounds of Owlet SmartSocks were on pallets, loaded on trucks and preparing to leave for their final destination.
Saturday, March 12th to Wednesday March 16th, 2032
Everyone involved in this mission held breath for 5 days. There were snags with a shipment and a new shipping company was needed, communications were periodically lost.
Thursday March 17th, 2032
At 9am I received an update from Majel with GEM in Rzeszow, Poland. The Owlet SmartSock pulse-ox monitors arrived!! The mission was a success!! Majel is in contact with hospitals and medical staff in Ukraine and has trucks lined up to distribute the monitors to babies in need.
This mission has been coordinated, 100% by volunteers. Everyone at Owlet jumped on board without any hesitation; Amanda made spreadsheets to track SmartSock donations, she and I texted at all hours of the day and night. Avril connected Majel and I to Ben and Tomasz in Owlet’s European centers in Belgium and Prague. The folks in Europe coordinated shipping companies and truck drivers. Majel with Global Empowerment Mission is doing humanitarian work that most of us can’t imagine. There is no payroll here, this is a mission funded purely by good hearts and good will.
Thank you to the incredible people at Owlet, the Global Empowerment Mission, Just In Case Foundation, Knox Blox, Lincoln’s Angels, MAW’s Cause, The BRaelynn & AVERY – Bravery Foundation, The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation and all the generous people that contributed to our Facebook fundraiser; because of you our mission is a success!
With Love and Hope,
Jennifer Smith of Silvie Bells