Published on January 31, 2018

Howells Donate $10,000 From Dawson’s Dream to Benefit NMMC Women’s Hospital NICU Graduates

TUPELO, Miss.—Chris and Krissy Howell of Mantachie recently donated $10,000 to the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi from Dawson’s Dream, a fund the Howells started after the loss of their son, Dawson.

Dawson was born five weeks prematurely on March 6, 2016, and spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. That June, when Dawson was only 3 months and 15 days old, his babysitter found him unresponsive, a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In the midst of her grief, Krissy Howell knew she had to do something redemptive. “I had a sudden urge,” she said. “I was just not okay with Dawson being gone and there not being anything good coming from it.”

That’s when Dawson’s Dream was born—a fund to provide home apnea monitors for NICU graduates from the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital during their first critical months at home. Apnea is pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. Premature birth or being part of a multiple birth increases the likelihood that a baby’s brain hasn’t matured completely, so he or she has less control over such automatic processes as breathing and heart rate. For this reason, and because many infants who die of SIDS had recently had a respiratory infection, NICU babies are a greater risk than most.

About a month after Dawson died, his mother started a GoFundMe account online, which quickly brought in $2,700 in donations. She began selling Dawson’s Dream T-shirts and silicone awareness bracelets. She also began painting original artwork to sell. With a substantial start to Dawson’s Dream, she turned to the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi to manage the fund.

NMMC’s NICU sends an average of five babies each month home on apnea monitors rented through a local vendor, according to NICU social worker Christy Whitley. If the baby’s heart rate goes above 220 or drops below 80, or if the monitor senses no movement for 20 seconds, it sounds an alarm. “Usually the alarm itself will stimulate the baby enough to cause them to start breathing again,” Whitley said. “Of course the alarm wakes the parents as well.”

These home apnea monitors offer a few additional benefits unavailable with commerciallyavailable ones. “The baby’s data is stored on these monitors and can be downloaded onto a computer,” Whitley said. “This allows the baby’s pediatrician to see the times of apnea and the duration of each event. Also, these monitors have a safety feature which makes it impossible to accidentally turn off.”

Most babies use a home apnea monitor for three to six months, until their doctor feels comfortable discontinuing it. “Some private insurance companies do not cover durable medical equipment like these monitors for babies,” Whitley said. “And for many parents, especially those without insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover, renting the monitors can be very expensive.”

In these instances, Dawson’s Dream can help. All donations are tax-deductible and are used to help families who cannot afford to rent a home apnea monitor when the physician recommends one. For giving information, visit www.nmhsfoundation.org or call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).

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