HomeVoorhees NewsThe Frank family is inspired to help March of Dimes after son’s...

The Frank family is inspired to help March of Dimes after son’s premature birth

Voorhees residents Eric and Meredith Frank’s lives were changed forever when their son, Brady, was born eight and a half weeks premature on Aug. 1, 2013. This unexpected event was due to Meredith being suddenly diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a rapid and potentially fatal prenatal condition often requiring immediate delivery of the baby. Brady weighed only three pounds, 6.3 ounces at birth.

What followed was 58 days of their son having to be treated at the Virtua Voorhees NICU. However, what started as a nightmare ended with a friendship, an invitation to speak at the March of Dimes Gala in Atlantic City and, most importantly, the saving of Meredith and Brady’s lives, all because of their time at the Virtua Voorhees NICU.

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Eric said the birth of their child happened so fast it was hard for him and his wife to enjoy the process.

“We started out feeling shock and fear — the complete opposite of how you are supposed to feel when you’re having a baby,” Eric said.

Eric, a man used to helping and fixing things, felt he was completely unable to help. The uncertainty of his wife and Brady’s survival, possible complications because of the premature birth, and the physical and mental recuperations were very difficult for Eric.

Meredith was in the hospital for about a week. However, Brady had to stay for 58 days in the NICU. Luckily, the Franks moved into a house a few minutes away from Voorhees Virtua that allowed them to visit at any hour.

Brady spent two months in the Virtua Voorhees NICU hooked up to breathing machines, heart monitors and IVs. He spent weeks in a tiny incubator and ate through a tiny feeding tube. He was poked, prodded, stuck, tested, positioned and re-positioned. Meredith and Eric watched as he struggled to breathe, eat, move and grow. They hoped, prayed, sang to him, read to him, played with him, held him and kissed him. With the help of the doctors, nurses and staff at Virtua NICU, the unwavering love and support of family friends, and the solidarity with his NICU neighbor, Taylor, Brady fought, he progressed and, eventually, he thrived.

On Sept. 27, 2013, Meredith and Eric were overjoyed to bring Brady home at last.

“The doctors, nurses and staff at Virtua Voorhees not only saved our son, they also helped save us. They were kind, patient, gentle and helped us get through each phase of our NICU stay one step at a time. They were our family for 58 days, and many of them remain close friends. They truly treated us as family, not as patients,” Eric said.

At first, Eric and Meredith were nervous their son would regress and have to go back to the hospital. Instead, Brady thrived. Meredith and Brady are now doing very well, and Brady is keeping his parents busy as he starts to walk and talk.

“We often lay in bed and look at pictures from his NICU days and are amazed at how far he has come,” Eric said.

During Brady’s stay in the NICU, Meredith and Eric became close friends with the parents of Brady’s neighbor, Taylor, who was also born eight weeks early. A few months after their children were released, both families walked in the March of Dimes march and helped raise money for the organization. After the march, Eric and Taylor’s father were both asked by the South Jersey Chapter of March of Dimes if they wanted to speak about their shared time and friendship that developed in the NICU at the March of Dimes Gala in Atlantic City on Oct. 18. Both said yes.

Though the family didn’t get help from the March of Dimes directly, March of Dimes helps families such as the Franks everywhere. Every year, approximately half a million babies are born premature in America. Prematurity is the №1 cause of infant deaths. The March of Dimes researches the various problems that threaten unborn and premature babies and works to prevent them. Its mission is to help mothers have healthy, full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

“We are honored to be able to do so,” Eric said. “We are and will be forever grateful for the March of Dimes and look forward to supporting their efforts for years to come.”

Eric and Meredith hope to have another baby, but this time they would like to avoid the NICU and give Brady a healthy brother or sister. Instead, they would like the NICU nurses to visit their healthy baby in the regular maternity wing at Virtua.

Eric said he hopes the March of Dimes gets the financial support and resources it needs to make an immediate, substantial and measureable impact on preterm birth.

The March of Dimes Born to Shine Gala on Oct. 18 at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City will honor top doctors from participating hospitals who are making a difference every day in the field of maternal and child health. The night will consist of a cocktail reception, live and silent auction, dinner, dancing, entertainment, desserts, spirits and more.

To learn more or to donate, visit the March of Dimes webpage at www.marchofdimes.org.

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