NICU Graduate Gives Back
The Lange Family are longtime members of the Eastern Yacht Club in Middle River, MD. It is one of a string of clubs along the Chesapeake Bay that bring together people who love boating and doing good in their communities. One of the club's annual community engagement initiatives is selecting a princess. Young women between the ages of 15 and 20 can campaign for the role, but in October 2019, Kelly ran unopposed.
Princess duties include fundraising for the charity of your choice. The straight-A Catholic High student and her twin brother, Matt, currently at Curley High School, were in GBMC's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 51 and 68 days, respectively. According to their mother, Rose, "it was a no-brainer" to choose the NICU as the recipient.
"When she had the interest in having the NICU as a fundraiser I was absolutely on board, 2,400 percent," Rose said.
The family hosted an event at Eastern Yacht Club, originally scheduled for April 2020, on Friday, July 24. The overcast day didn’t stop 100 people from social distancing along the water. Between the event itself and a raffle for a Baltimore Ravens jersey signed by Lamar Jackson, Kelly raised more than $8,500 for the NICU.
"It obviously wasn’t the event we were hoping for six months ago," Kelly's father, Patrick, said, "but it went well."
The Lange Family visited the new NICU before the pandemic, and Rose marveled at how different it was from the space she and Patrick called home in 2003.
"When my children were in the NICU, it was down in the basement so there were no windows, no separation. They had a curtain, I think, in between us, so the nurses' station was right in the middle," Rose recalled. "It was open, so you'd hear all the bells and whistles for all of the patients. Now, they have all these rooms. When we went for the visit, we were impressed."
Seventeen years earlier, Rose was pregnant with triplets, but the couple unfortunately lost one of the babies. She was admitted to GBMC two weeks before she gave birth, borderline preeclampsia and with an undiagnosed case of pancreatitis. But between Rose's OB/GYN, Dr. Marwan Hajj, and Dr. Maria Pane, the twins were delivered safely, and Rose recovered.
"It was pretty terrifying," Patrick recalled. "I personally thought I was going to be left a widow because Rose was so sick and Dr. Hajj and Dr. Pane, I swear they lived at GBMC."
"After delivering the children, it was a circus," Rose said, "Everybody, they were such good people, such nice people and they just took me under their wing and told me things and reassured me and let me know things were going to be OK."
The level of care in GBMC's NICU hasn't changed in those 17 years, even though the space has. It is because of grateful parents and families, and NICU graduates, that the level of care can continue to ascend. Kelly's thoughtfulness will help other parents like hers. Because, though years have gone by, all parents still recall the same memories Patrick does.
"We would sit in these rocking chairs in the NICU with our babies and I never felt more at home."