Special to Franklin County Free Press
CHAMBERSBURG – For nine anxious months, Sara Shank’s body stretched to accommodate the growth of her first child, a son, with husband Nick.
Like others before her, she watched her stomach shift and bounce when her baby changed positions or hiccupped in utero. And, with each prenatal visit and each doppler scan for a strong heart cadence, her love and anticipation for her unborn son and his impending arrival swelled.
But when her little boy was in distress during labor and his heart rate plummeted to just 50 beats per minute, Shank, a paramedic with Waynesboro Advanced Life Support – Medic 2, understood the severity of the situation as she was prepped for an emergency C-section at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital.
“I went into the C-section thinking I wasn’t coming home with a baby,” she recalled.
Baby Daniel survived but had an Apgar 1 score at birth. He needed to be resuscitated, intubated and taken to WellSpan York Hospital. He spent a week in that hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
There the newborn went through hyperthermic therapy to cool his body hoping to eliminate the chance for severe brain damage. Sara and Nick were unable to hold him for four days, increasing their mental trauma.
The Angel Eye Camera System used by the hospital’s NICU helped provide them comfort.
“If I woke up in the middle of the night, I could see him,” Sara said. The technology, available on the web and mobile app platforms, also was used by extended family members living in New York, Connecticut and Florida.
Bringing Angel Eye Technology to Chambersburg
When the couple took Daniel home after his week in the NICU, Sara knew she wanted to help others faced with similar circumstances. She wanted to bring the Angel Eye technology to WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital’s NICU.
“He was in the NICU a couple of hours here, but I still appreciate everything that was done (at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital).”
Enter The Superhero Project, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit run by Kelly Gallagher whose twin sons were born at 32 weeks. The organization raises funds to provide assistance and resources, including Angel Eye technology to hospital NICUs and their patients’ families.
Sara connected with The Superhero Project on social media, coordinating with them to provide a donation to bring the Angel Eye Camera System to WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital.
“This is a gift that would have been life-changing for me,” said Gallagher at a check presentation in the spring. “So, every time I give it, it’s like the gift that keeps on giving.”
The Angel Eye system became available in WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital’s NICU on July 10.