Published on June 05, 2020

Saltillo Family Donates Birthday Gifts to NMMC’s NICU Families

Hobbs childrenBryan and Melissa Hobbs of Saltillo recently donated more than 500 onesies and pajamas to the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to honor their own NICU “graduates.”

The Hobbs’ three children—Noland, Henry and Mary Pat—all spent time in the NICU. Eight-year-old Noland spent two weeks in the NICU in April 2012 after being born at 34 weeks gestation. Twins Henry and Mary Pat were born Feb. 21, 2019, at 33 weeks gestation. Henry struggled with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a medical condition common in premature babies where a portion of the bowel dies. “If his neonatologist, Dr. (Bryan) Darling, and the nurses hadn’t caught it early and started treating it immediately, I firmly believe that Henry would not be here today. We were terrified of losing him,” Melissa says. “The NICU is absolutely wonderful. The staff loves those children as their own. Most people don’t realize what a gem it is to have in Tupelo.”

The twins were discharged from the NICU on March 25, 2019. Although Henry later relapsed and required treatment at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, he recovered well.

Mary Pat, who had been the stronger twin, then begin to exhibit signs of trouble. During a checkup, pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Grisham discovered that Mary Pat’s heart sounded abnormal and referred her to Dr. Frank Osei, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s specialty clinic in Tupelo. Dr. Osei diagnosed Mary Pat with a rare cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that made it harder for her heart to pump blood throughout her body. Despite treatment, Mary Pat passed away Oct. 7, 2019, at Le Bonheur. She was able to give the gift of life through organ donation.

"Mary Pat was just beautiful. When she smiled, her face just lit up,” Melissa says. “I’m so grateful that we were able to be with her. She went from our arms to Jesus’ arms.”

When the twins’ birthday rolled around, Bryan and Melissa wanted to do something to honor their children and help others. In lieu of birthday gifts, they asked friends and family instead to donate onesies and pajamas for NICU families. “All that Mary Pat ever knew in her lifetime was love,” Melissa says. “God showed us so much grace during that time. I feel like this is what He wants us to do—to spread hope and kindness to others.”

Melissa posted their birthday plan on social media and hoped to receive at least 50 items. Soon she began to hear from people far and near, including many she hadn’t heard from in years—and all sent gifts. Before long, the Hobbs family had gathered 500 onesies and pajamas for NICU families.

“This project has really helped me with healing,” Melissa says. “I love hearing Mary Pat’s name; It’s the sweetest thing in the whole wide world. It’s amazing how many lives she has been able to touch.”

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