Sheri and Mike Shanahan and their young daughter Marlee were greeted with bright smiles at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital on Friday when the family showed up with a big $30,000 cheque to help pay for a new Central Monitoring System for the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The Shanahans had spent the summer raising money for the new monitoring system in an exhaustive personal campaign that saw many of their friends and family members tapped to contribute.
The Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation agreed to match the donations for the monitor that the Shanahans raised and will pay for the remainder of the $60,000 machine.
The Nanaimo couple wanted to give something back to the health care professionals at the NRGH for all their work and dedication to help their newborn daughter Jesse, who passed away in May.
The Shanahans were expecting their second daughter to be born in late June, but Jesse Darlene was born nine weeks premature on April 13 and was airlifted to Victoria's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she spent the first 12 days of her life before being transferred back to the Nanaimo hospital's NICU.
After more than five weeks of being carefully cared for at the NRGH, Jesse was discharged after passing every necessary test.
However, despite the best efforts of all involved, Jesse unexpectedly passed away on May 31.
As a gesture of gratitude, and to help parents facing similar situations, the family established a fund called simply "Jesse's Gift" intended to raise funds to help purchase the new monitoring machine.
In addition to current bedside monitoring, the monitor will allow nurses to effectively monitor sick and fragile babies from one central location.
At Jesse's celebration of life, the family asked that people make donations towards the purchase of the central monitor rather than sending flowers or cards.
In one day, they raised almost $5,000.
Since then, support for Jesse's Gift continued to pour in.
Sheri said she was "shocked and delighted" by the response to the campaign and said a significant amount of the total also came from anonymous donors.
"We thought it would take years to raise the money, but it only took a few months," she said at the NRGH.
"It was a great effort and we appreciate everyone's help to meet the goal."
Maeve O'Byrne, president and CEO of the NDHF, said she was "amazed" at the success of the Jesse's Gift campaign and thanked the Shanahans for their efforts.
"For us, it's a dream situation when people recognize the needs of the hospital and take it upon themselves to raise money to help out," she said.
"We're more than happy to match the funds they raised."
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