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Toddler raises donations for Cayman Islands’ high-risk babies in lieu of birthday gifts

While it is typical for guests to shower toddlers with presents of toys and clothes on their first birthday, the birthday guests of one-year-old Adelaide Merren helped her family to raise funds towards newborns who need intensive medical attention.

To celebrate Adelaide’s first birthday on 26 June 2018, her mother Jernaye Merren felt it would be nice to give back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Cayman Islands Hospital where Adelaide spent her first 23 days. She decided to request donations for the NICU at Adelaide’s first birthday party in lieu of gifts from friends and family, who happily delivered. Among those who donated were Ailian and Sean Evans, parents of heart hero baby Nolan, who lost his fight to congenital heart defect (CHD) on 25 January 2018 at seven months and three days old.

Coincidentally, Adelaide and Nolan were neighbours in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Cayman Islands Hospital, both fighting health difficulties at the same time after being born prematurely.

“Nolan was dear to our hearts and through our journeys, our families have become close friends. In honor of Nolan and his family, we agreed to share the donations with the Cayman Heart Fund (CHF) and look forward to supporting the Evans and other heart families in the future,” said Mrs. Merren.

Approximately, CI$650 worth of gifts were donated to the NICU and a cheque of CI$1,360 donated in memory and honour of Nolan to the Cayman Heart Fund (CHF).

Since Nolan’s death his parents have raised over CI$20,000 to go towards children with congenital heart defect (CHD), which means those born with an abnormally structured heart and/or large vessels. The Evans family stated, “To say we are extremely grateful to precious little Adelaide’s family is an understatement. This was such an amazing gesture. The funds raised for both the NICU and CHF are so very important for the critical health care of local newborn babies. This effort and other successful fundraising efforts such as June’s KIDFEST (now planned to be an annual event) will help CHD babies and their families in Cayman as well as help to raise CHD awareness locally.”

Coordinator for the Cayman Heart Fund (CHF), Colleen Mellott, expressed heartfelt gratitude to all the friends and family members that generously donated gifts and money in lieu of presents to Adelaide on her first birthday.

“We are most grateful to the family for organising this very generous donation and also for raising awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD) and congenital heart defect (CHD). This amazing donation will go towards the Hart 4 Hearts programme (H4H). The H4H programme is the paediatric arm of the CHF, which raises public awareness and provides financial assistance to families in Cayman when their child is born with CHD, assisting them with expenses associated with urgent paediatric cardiology health care.”

Registered Neonatal Nurse, Kerry Bennett-Reed noted that the donations will benefit other babies similar to Adelaide and Nolan in the NICU. “We are very grateful to Adelaide’s family for the generous donation. Gifts like these make NICU life just a little more comfortable for our tiny babies and it is heartwarming to think that the memories of baby Adelaide’s stay in NICU provoked such a lovely idea. Also, a big thank you to Adelaide’s family and friends who gave so generously as they celebrated her first birthday.”

IMAGE: Photo Caption: Representatives of the NICU and CHF receive gifts and a cheque from the families of babies Adelaide and Nolan. L-r: Neonatal RN Kerry Bennett-Reed, CHF Coordinator Colleen Mellott, Nolan’s father Sean Evans, Adelaide Merren, Adelaide’s mother Jernaye Merren, Adelaide’s cousin Aiden Tatum-Wood, HSA Maternity Unit Manager Nurse Shannon Hydes and Nolan’s mother Ailian Evans.


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