Our Tiniest Patients Inspire Big Gifts

April 01, 2013

Support of the Providence Foundations helps critically ill infants have a fighting chance

All it took was a sneeze.

Born five weeks prematurely, little Harry Hissrich breezed through his first 24 hours of life. His Apgar scores were normal, and he weighed a healthy 5 pounds, 7 ounces. But a simple sneeze triggered a “dusky spell,” or newborn apnea, in which Harry stopped breathing. “He went from normal color to pink to red to blue in seconds,” says his mom, Lauren Hissrich.

Nurses whisked Harry down the hall to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where Harry’s father, Mike, watched helplessly. “Mike is a television producer,” Lauren says. “He had worked on the first four seasons of ER, and he said it felt like an episode of ER—watching Harry through the window of the nursery.”

Harry remained in the NICU for seven days while specialized staff managed his oxygen levels and taught the Hissriches how to change diapers , bottle feed and burp their son among the menagerie of wires and tubes.

Harry is now a happy, healthy 2-year- old who loves to chase his cats, climb and color.

Stories like this unfold in Providence NICUs daily. In the South Bay at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, for example, Jennifer Ferreyra’s daughter Emma spent three weeks in the NICU following her mother’s emergency C-section. “We took it hour by hour, day by day,” says Jennifer, whose daughter is now 9. “The nurses were always willing to calm our fears on nights when we were losing hope.”

Raising Hope

Hope is a powerful work for parents of preemies and critically ill infants. Hope is something you offer when you support the Providence Foundations, which ensure high-risk newborns have the highest quality care possible.

A few of the items the Providence Foundations have purchased for the Providence Level 3 NICUs (located at Providence Saint Joseph, Providence Holy Cross, Providence Tarzana and Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance) include high-tech bassinets that convert from an open table warmer into a soundproof incubator at the touch of a button, specialized NICU stethoscopes, SiPAP machines for ventilation support, and specialized refrigerators and warmers specially designed for breast milk donations that ward off life-threatening disease in preemies.

The Hissrich family had a hand in that last one. “After our experience, we were interested in personally doing something for the NICU,” Lauren says. “We purchased a piece of equipment that is saving lives.”