Ava McKenty has always known she was her parents’ second daughter. She has grown up feeling connected to Madison, the little girl who was born at 24 weeks and didn’t make it. Since she was a toddler, long before she understood the meaning behind it, she has carried around a doll that was purchased because her parents needed the tiny doll clothes to dress Madison for burial.
After Madison, Natasha and her husband tried for another baby, but suffered repeated miscarriages. Just when they were losing hope, Ava came along.
“We were overwhelmed with such a kind act and generosity from an 11-year-old girl.”
“I finally had my rainbow baby,” Natasha recalls.
For her eleventh birthday, that miracle baby asked Natasha if she could honour her sister with a gift to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). She wanted to help babies like Madison and their families.
Instead of birthday gifts, she asked her friends and family to contribute to a wish list of items she had requested from the NICU at MCH.
“We were overwhelmed with such a kind act and generosity from an 11-year-old girl,” says Natalia Ludwig, an interim clinical leader in the NICU who helped facilitate the donation.
Ava collected dozens of receiving blankets, washable rattles and toys, mobiles, hats and sleepers for the NICU. She had her heart set on donating a swing so she and her mom saved up and purchased one to give. She and Natasha visited the unit to drop off the items last week. “I liked being able to go shopping for the babies, knowing the stuff would be used by someone who needs it,” she says. “I was overwhelmed by all of the people who wanted to help with my donation.”
Her birthday contribution has made a big impact on the NICU.
“This donation is significant for the NICU and our families,” Ludwig says. “The clothing and coloured linen really help normalize such a stressful time. Every baby in the NICU, whether they are being cared for in incubators, cots or cribs, can have a beautifully coloured and cozy bed. Just this simple thing can give the family so much joy.”