During the afternoon of April 5, 2017, local meteorologists issued severe weather alerts for Latta, South Carolina. Aaron and Stephani Miles both work with the Latta school system and arrived at home around 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Soon after, the rain and hail began to beat down on their home.
Aaron and his seven-year-old son Brennon stood looking out the window at the hail until the lightning started, so they moved away. Meanwhile, Stephani prepared dinner in the kitchen while four-year-old Conner played in the den with a baseball bat in one hand and Lucky Charms in the other.
Suddenly, the family’s car alarm activated as they heard a thunderous noise. Aaron and Stephani could not believe what happened. A strong gust of wind uprooted a nearby 100-year-old oak tree, which landed directly on their home and both vehicles.
Aaron immediately yelled, “Is everyone okay?” as he looked over the large tree limbs that filled the family’s den.
He heard the cries and screams of Stephani and Brennon, but no sound from Conner. Just silence.
Panic and terror overwhelmed Aaron. “I could not see Conner because of the tree and then noticed our dog, Daisy, making noises we have never heard before or since. I knew if I could get to Daisy, I would find Conner,” he said. Aaron struggled to get into the den, but when he finally did, the sight terrified him even more.
“A large tree limb and trusses from the roof covered Conner’s body,” said Aaron. “I could only see Conner’s shoe and blood pouring out from under the limb.” Aaron called 911. The dispatcher advised him to stay on the phone and not move Conner, but Aaron could feel the tree shifting in the house and knew he had to get his son out.
Aaron ended the call and removed as much debris as possible. As rain poured in through the gaping hole in the ceiling, Aaron mustered all the strength he could and moved Conner from under the tree while Stephani ran to get a washcloth and small towel to stop the bleeding from two gashes on Conner’s head.
Aaron ran out the door with Conner in his arms. At the same moment, the Latta Chief of Police arrived in response to the 911 call.
Conner’s little body shook as he went in and out of consciousness. Just as Aaron reached to put Conner in the police car, the ambulance arrived.
The paramedics took Conner to the McLeod Health Dillon Emergency Department. On the way, Aaron prayed for Conner and everyone involved in his care.
Once there, Dr. Kievers Cunningham, Medical Director of the McLeod Dillon Emergency Department, along with a team of nurses, worked quickly to assess the extent of Conner’s injuries. While Aaron and Stephani anxiously awaited a report on their son’s condition, a couple of nurses brought them dry scrubs to replace their soaked clothing.
A CT scan revealed a fractured skull with several skull fragments pushing into the brain. Conner also sustained an epidural hematoma, a collection of blood between the skull and covering of the brain, which compressed the underlying brain as well as a cerebral contusion, or bruising of the brain itself.
“Every minute counts when a person sustains such a critical injury,” explained Dr. Cunningham. “A hemorrhage increases pressure on the brain, which can lead to irreversible brain damage or death if not treated quickly.
“We intubated Conner to protect his airway and stabilize his vitals while arranging for transport. I explained to the family that Conner would need immediate surgery to stop the hemorrhaging as well as repair the skull fracture.”
Dr. Cunningham then called Dr. William Naso, a Neurosurgeon with Florence Neurosurgery & Spine Center, and arranged for Conner’s transport to McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence.
“Upon Conner’s arrival to the Emergency Department, we activated a ‘Q-1,’” explained Dr. Naso. “This lets the Emergency Department and Operating Room staff know that the patient has a severe life-threatening condition requiring immediate surgical intervention. Dr. Cunningham notified me of Conner’s condition so our team could fully prepare for his arrival. The time from Conner’s arrival to the induction of anesthesia in the Operating Room totaled 11 minutes.
“An epidural hematoma remains one of the most time sensitive neurosurgical emergencies. A delay of even a few minutes might literally mean the difference between life and death. Dr. Cunningham’s early intubation, stabilization and transfer of Conner, Dr. Michelle Huxford’s preparation of her Emergency Department staff, and Dr. Ben King’s efficiency and care as Conner’s anesthesiologist served as critical components in Conner’s good outcome. Our Emergency Department nurses, respiratory therapists, transport technicians, Operating Room nurses, nurse anesthetists, and Operating Room technicians all played important roles in Conner’s surgery and ultimate recovery. Without all these dedicated professionals, Conner may not have survived,” added Dr. Naso.
Conner underwent a craniotomy with elevation of depressed skull fracture and evacuation of the epidural hematoma. Essentially, Dr. Naso and his surgical team removed a portion of Conner’s skull and the large blood clot compressing his brain. They then repaired the fractured skull using a series of plates and screws.
“With Conner’s surgery underway, Bill Early, a Patient Representative in the Emergency Department, led Stephani and me, along with several family members and friends, to the surgical waiting area and prayed with our entire group,” recalled Aaron.
After surgery, Conner stayed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) under the supervision of Dr. Carl Chelen, McLeod Pediatric Intensivist, where his recovery progressed as expected.
After two nights in the PICU, respiratory therapists Sherry Gasque and Heather Heape began the process of weaning Conner off the ventilator. Stephani prayed for this to happen before his fifth birthday on April 13. The PICU team extubated Conner on April 12.
Stephani also describes their main fear as knowing that head trauma can change one’s personality, and Conner has always been the prankster of the family. She and Aaron felt utter relief during one of the first interactions Conner had with Aaron after coming off the ventilator. Since he could not speak yet to show his personality, Conner removed Aaron’s glasses, turned them upside down and put them back on Aaron’s face, then put them on the correct way.
“We cannot express our gratitude for the entire PICU team,” added Stephani. “Dr. Chelen frequently checked on us and explained every detail regarding Conner’s care.
“Josh Murphy, our night nurse, gave Conner a Clemson hat for his birthday, even though Josh pulls for the University of South Carolina. What may have seemed a small gesture to Josh touched us deeply. He showed incredible support and compassion not just for Conner, but our entire family.
“Our oldest son, Brennon, struggled to cope with the accident. He had no home, no familiar car to ride in, and did not know if his brother would be okay. His entire world had turned upside down. When he needed his family the most, we could not be there for him like we wanted. In those moments, even the most ordinary acts of kindness have significant impact.
“Josh always made a point of speaking to Brennon, and the therapists and nurses strived to make sure Brennon felt included and important in Conner’s recovery. The first thing Conner said after getting off the ventilator was not ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’, but ‘Brennon.’
“Then, Olivia Whatley, the Child Life Specialist, took Brennon to the Child Life Activity Center and let him pick out a Lego for each family member -- him, Conner, Mom and Dad. Olivia put the Legos together to remind Brennon that even though he could not be with his family right now, they loved him very much. This really impacted Brennon, and he carried the Legos in his pocket long after the accident,” said Stephani.
Conner underwent routine neuro checks in the PICU to assess his brain activity. Aaron prayed for a sign that Conner would be okay and during one of his neuro checks asked Conner to squeeze his hand, wiggle his nose, and wiggle his toes. Aaron happened to capture Conner responding on video.
“No matter what I may deal with in a day, I go back to that video and time stops because at that moment, I remember sitting in the PICU thanking the Lord that Conner knew what it meant to do these things,” said Aaron. “Before that point, we honestly did not know what Conner’s outcome would look like.”
Conner spent a total of 12 nights in the PICU and eight nights on the pediatric floor. During those 20 days, the Patient Representative Aaron met the first night further impacted the family by visiting daily with newspaper in hand.
“Bill will never know how much this kind gesture meant to us,” recalled Aaron. “For those brief moments, he helped distract us from all our anxieties and concerns through simple conversation.”
Upon Conner’s discharge from the hospital, he underwent occupational and physical therapy at McLeod Pediatric Rehabilitation for a few months, where therapists Megan Jones and Doren Craig made an impression on Conner and the family.
Today, six-year-old Conner enjoys all things sports and wrestling. Shortly after the accident, Conner developed an interest in professional wrestler John Cena whose motto is “Never give up.” Now, Conner has an entire John Cena collection.
Conner currently plays flag football but looks forward to possibly playing more sports soon.
Most importantly, doctors believe Conner should make a full recovery. “We have definitely gained a new perspective,” says Aaron. “God has a purpose for Conner, and He left him here to fulfill that purpose.”
Your support helps Pediatric Rehabilitation care for a brave little boy
Marquita Cox just wants her son to live a normal life.
“I don’t want him to be labeled or treated differently,” she says of Christopher, her fourth child. But, Marquita knows that for a child with autism, a normal life takes a lot of work.
This is where YOU come in.
Your gifts to McLeod Health Seacoast Pediatric Rehabilitation provide crucial equipment necessary for Christopher’s therapy sessions.
Thanks to you, Christopher is making progress.
“When Christopher first came to us, he could barely speak,” recalls Kaye Wooten, Speech Therapist at McLeod Health Seacoast. “Now, he’s talking in full sentences, expressing how he feels and telling you what he needs.”
Kaye and other members of the Pediatric Rehabilitation team know that your generosity supports the level of care that children like Christopher so desperately need.
And you should know something, too …
Because of YOUR generosity, Christopher is closer to a normal life. He no longer requires special education. He will start Pre-Kindergarten this fall in a regular classroom.
How you can help the smallest victims of the opioid epidemic
The national opioid crisis has reached the Pee Dee region as the use of prescription and non-prescription drugs rapidly increases. This crisis does not discriminate. It affects individuals and families from all walks of life.
As its grip on our community tightens, more and more of our babies are born dependent on drugs their mothers used during pregnancy. McLeod Health professionals battle every day against some of the nation’s worst rates of drug-dependent newborns.
With your help, McLeod can confront this tragedy head on.
Drug-dependent babies face long and excruciating withdrawal periods that include convulsions, weight loss, and inability to sleep.
Some uncontrollably claw at their face as their tiny bodies adjust to life without drugs in their system.
"We desperately need funding to train staff at regional hospitals,” explains Dr. Moeckel, Neonatologist at McLeod Children’s Hospital. "Drug-dependant babies are extremely difficult to treat and require very specialized care.”
Dr. Moeckel is asking YOU to join the fight to save these innocent newborns.
“We’re seeing more of our babies impacted by drug dependency than ever before,” says Dr. Moeckel. "Your gift will help our smallest victims of the opioid crisis receive the best care possible.”
With your support, we can turn the tide. You can help give these babies a fighting chance.
On January 12, 2013, just seven months after beginning the adoption process, Jayson and Ashlee Quesada witnessed the birth of their daughter, Caydence.
Everything seemed normal until Caydence’s two-month check-up with McLeod Pediatrician Dr. Brian Naylor, who noticed her difficulty tracking and focusing on objects.
Dr. Naylor referred Caydence to an ophthalmologist, who diagnosed her with an eye disorder called nystagmus, or involuntary eye movements. These movements can result in reduced vision and depth perception and often affects balance and coordination. Because the nystagmus presents more prominently on some occasions than others, Caydence’s ophthalmologist prescribed glasses to help maintain control of her eye movements.
The ophthalmologist also ordered an MRI for further testing, which revealed septo optic dysplasia, a rare congenital condition characterized by the underdevelopment of the optic nerve, pituitary gland dysfunction, and the absence of the septum pellucidum (part of the brain connecting the two hemispheres).
While most individuals have only two of the three components, Caydence joins the 30 percent of people who have all three, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Because the area in which Caydence’s pituitary gland and optic nerve intersect developed incorrectly, her body does not produce enough growth hormone, an important component for bone density, cholesterol, and muscle mass.
Septo optic dysplasia causes a range of symptoms including vision problems, difficulty with coordination and balance as well as low immunity.
Facing tremendous concerns over their daughter’s unexpected diagnosis, Jayson and Ashlee relied heavily on the quality care of their McLeod physicians. They continue to visit these pediatric specialists every six months to monitor Caydence’s growth and development.
Caydence’s treatment plan consists of daily low-dose growth hormone injections to balance any hormone deficiencies she may have as well as routine blood work and cortisol stress tests. In times of stress, a person’s body naturally increases its cortisol levels, but Caydence does not have that ability. Therefore, illnesses such as the flu could cause serious complications.
“We monitor her temperature, especially during the summer, because she can overheat easily,” says Ashlee. “We keep a thermometer close by, but we have also learned to watch for physical signs such as lethargy. If Caydence develops a fever exceeding 102°F or gets overheated, she receives a cortisol injection.”
In addition to growth hormone and cortisol injections, Caydence undergoes weekly occupational, physical, and speech therapy both in school and at McLeod Pediatric Rehabilitation.
Now five years old, Caydence has made tremendous progress. Recalling one of Caydence’s most notable accomplishments in recent months, Ashlee explains that Caydence can now walk up and down steps without assistance such as holding a rail.
“Caydence’s condition affects her depth perception, making this simple action difficult before now,” explains Ashlee. “Overall, however, Caydence has excellent vision considering approximately 80 percent of children with this condition become legally blind.”
Caydence works hard and continuously strives to reach her therapy goals, and every success gives her the encouragement to keep moving forward.
Currently enrolled in pre-school, Caydence enjoys many hobbies, including reading books, playing on her tablet, completing puzzles, having dance parties at home, wrestling with her daddy, exploring the outdoors, and telling jokes. Her favorite joke goes like this: “Knock, knock, who’s there? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”
Caydence also takes music lessons and participates in weekly equestrian therapy to strengthen her coordination and balance while learning self-soothing techniques.
Caydence’s prognosis will likely never change; however, her vibrant personality and resilient spirit will help her achieve anything she sets her mind to accomplish.
“Witnessing Caydence’s positive attitude throughout her journey inspires us every day,” says Jayson. “Caydence approaches every obstacle determined to overcome it. She resolves to live life to the fullest, refusing to let anything hold her back.”
“Despite her amazing progress and ability to adapt, Caydence still faces many daily struggles,” explains Ashlee. “Social environments, including school, remain a challenge for her. Caydence works hard to learn certain social skills -- such as personal space, volume and interactive play -- which come naturally to most kids. In these moments, Caydence faces the greatest fight -- her personal fear of failure.
“If we could take this away from her, we would; however, Caydence embodies the truth that our differences allow our unique qualities to shine through. When she enters a room, people stop to notice -- whether from her loud voice, her willingness to approach anyone and give them a hug, or her bright smile. She brings so much light, joy and laughter to everyone around her, and we would not have it any other way.”
To celebrate Caydence’s remarkable journey, McLeod named Caydence the 2018 McLeod Children’s Hospital Ambassador. In this role, Caydence participates in local and state activities to help raise awareness of the services McLeod Children’s Hospital provides children from the Midlands to the Coast.
Maurice Sanders II, known as “M.J.” to his loved ones, bolts around like any typical little boy. A bundle of energy, he smiles and laughs as he plays with balls, blocks, and books, running from one corner of a room to another seeking his next adventure. M.J. slows down usually only for a snack or drink. His parents, Kamara and Maurice, feel lucky if he pauses for a hug or a nap, but the moment quickly passes as M.J. winds himself back up to high speed.
This perpetual state of motion and joy slowed for a time in October 2017. When two-year-old M.J. appeared sluggish and showed signs of a cold, Kamara made an appointment with M.J.’s pediatrician, Dr. Karen Hill at McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence, for evaluation and treatment. After M.J.’s symptoms worsened and his fever climbed, Kamara brought him back to the office for a Saturday clinic visit with Dr. Michael Collins, and subsequently M.J. was later admitted to the McLeod Children’s Hospital with a suspected diagnosis: Kawasaki Disease.
“A rare condition, Kawasaki Disease affects children usually before two years of age,” said Dr. Charles Trant, McLeod Pediatric Cardiologist. “While the disease does not have a well-defined cause, some researchers have found potential links to certain viruses.”
The common symptoms of Kawasaki Disease include: a high spiking fever for at least five days; a rash; conjunctivitis; bright red palms/soles; red/swollen tongue; and enlarged lymph nodes. While these signs can cause fear and alarm, especially in such young children, most recover quickly from the disease when caught early.
The treatment for Kawasaki Disease involves hospitalization and a drug therapy called intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIG), a mixture of antibodies and aspirin. Most patients need only a single dose of IVIG, but some require multiple doses of this powerful drug, according to Dr. Trant.
To the great relief of M.J.’s family, the effectiveness of the IVIG treatment manifested almost immediately.
“As soon as he received the IVIG, M.J. started to come back,” said Kamara. “For a brief moment, all I could see was Superman flying into the light of the sun, regaining his power as the weight of kryptonite vanished from his chest. My little Superman looked strong again.”
M.J. and his family recently celebrated his third birthday, and thankfully should not have to worry about Kawasaki Disease slowing him down again.
“Patients who respond well to the IVIG treatment and show improved signs of inflammation go home and continue taking aspirin for at least three weeks,” explained Dr. Trant. “After that time passes, we perform an EKG/echocardiogram, and if we see no heart damage, we stop the aspirin but follow-up again in three more months. If doing very well at the time of the follow-up, the patient can continue normal supervision by their pediatrician or family physician.”
While considered rare, Kawasaki Disease does impact the lives of children in the region, but the McLeod Children’s Hospital meets those needs.
“I see six to ten patients a year with Kawasaki Disease, which can lead to very severe complications if it impacts the coronary arteries. In rare cases, it can cause heart attacks in small children,” said Dr. Trant.
“Thankfully, having the McLeod Children’s Hospital here in Florence means that these children can receive treatment closer to home, without travelling hundreds of miles or to other states for their care.”
Click here to support the Rock for Kids Campaign.
Parents who have looked into the eyes of their child when they are frightened or in pain experience emotions that many of us cannot imagine.
As the only Pediatric Orthopedist in our region, I see these parents and their brave children every day. So, upon hearing of a program where a rock, a simple rock, can help provide the strength we need for the children in our region, I knew our community would respond.
All of us who see our young patients’ bravery are thankful for donors who have generously supported McLeod Children’s Hospital. I am writing today to ask you to join with us by making a tax-deductible gift to help provide excellent care close to home.
As part of the Rock for Kids Campaign, our children are painting rocks with messages of gratitude to send to our donors as a thank you keepsake. These rocks are symbols of their strength and resilience.
The care I provide for my young patients range from a minor bone fracture to much more serious and chronic issues, such as scoliosis and cerebral palsy. I am constantly amazed at the strength and endurance my patients and their parents exhibit as they face difficulties.
Many of my patients await surgery and long-term treatment of associated health issues related to their diagnosis. I consider it a tremendous blessing that we have a dedicated Children’s Hospital at McLeod so that these families do not have to travel hours away from home for their children to receive excellent care.
The McLeod Children’s Hospital provides loving care for more than 56,000 children every year and each of those families has a story they could share. I would like to mention one patient that reminds me of how critical it is to provide care locally.
This 12-year-old lives with osteogenesis imperfacta, the medical name for brittle bone disease. He has experienced nearly a dozen broken bones and five surgeries in his young life. While I consider myself the “technician” treating his condition, it is the team in the McLeod Children’s Hospital who are real heroes who have become like family to him.
One of these professionals, Jennifer Johnson, a registered nurse who has cared for children at McLeod since 1982, remembers the bravery and optimistic spirit of this child and his mother. The mother never leaves his side and they consider the Children’s Hospital a second home.
Many families turn to the McLeod Children’s Hospital when their children face life-threatening conditions. At times like this, we all recognize the value of local care. For example, McLeod offers:
• The highest level Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for babies as small as one pound.
• A fully staffed Pediatric Intensive Care unit caring for children with serious trauma and critical illness.
• Local pediatric specialists in cardiology, orthopedics and endocrinology services.
• A specially equipped ChildReach Ambulance that stands ready to transport newborns and children
from community hospitals to McLeod Children’s Hospital in Florence.
McLeod Health is dedicated to healing tiny hands and hearts by devoting resources and talent to the very specialized care our youngest patients and their families need.
We are counting on generous donors like you to help our dedicated team of professionals ensure that all receive the same excellent and loving care regardless of their ability to pay. And, our children are anxious to thank you in their special way. For your gift of $25 or more, we will send you a hand-painted rock as a keepsake symbolizing the Rock for Kids Campaign.
Al Gilpin, M.D.
McLeod Pediatric Orthopaedics
P.S. Our children face critical needs every day at McLeod Children’s Hospital. They are waiting to hear from you. I hope you will send your gift as soon as possible and help us Rock for Kids.
When my 19-year-old son, Matt, was five, he was diagnosed with an osteochondroma. The word is terribly frightening, but fortunately, his is a benign tumor. The location of the tumor is on the growth plate of his knee which complicates any surgical options while he is still growing. On rare occasions these tumors can become malignant so we have been seeing Dr. Al Gilpin every six months for 14 years for x-rays and MRIs to ensure that the tumor is not growing.
What a blessing to our family that we have this very specialized care in our home town. It means so much that we do not have the complications of traveling hours away to seek the care Matt needs.
When counting blessings, I want to share with you another gift my family receives as a result of the time we spend at Dr. Gilpin’s office.
The waiting room is always full, with children and families who depend on McLeod Children’s Hospital. They face much greater challenges and struggles than we do. There are many critical childhood illnesses and injuries that families of our region live with every day.
These experiences bless me and every member of my family with a shared compassion for these brave patients and their steadfast caregivers.
In addition to our own experience, now we truly appreciate the critical importance of local care for these children. It is discouraging to think that these dedicated families, who are already in such a stressful situation, would have to deal with issues like taking time off from work, arranging childcare, the expenses of travel and the physical exhaustion of being in unfamiliar surroundings.
This knowledge has motivated us to get involved and offer our personal support to help in this work.
As you consider your family’s blessings, I ask you to join us today. Your gift will help ensure these children can grow up with the best healthcare close to their home. You will be a blessing to them and their families.
Thank you for caring.
Laura M. Marechal
Ecstatic to learn that they were expecting their third child, Michael and Brandi Rogers of Effingham, South Carolina, began to prepare for life as a family of five.
Just eleven weeks into the pregnancy, however, Michael and Brandi’s joy quickly turned to concern when an ultrasound revealed fluid on their unborn daughter’s brain. Further testing led to a devastating diagnosis -- anencephaly, a rare and fatal birth defect which prevents an infant’s brain and skull from developing properly.
Anencephaly affects approximately one in 1,000 pregnancies, and the National Institutes of Health estimates that one in 10,000 infants in the United States is born with the condition. Almost all infants with anencephaly pass away before birth or shortly after.
Heartbroken over their daughter’s diagnosis, Michael and Brandi researched the condition to determine their options. Brandi also joined social media groups formed by mothers of infants with anencephaly to learn about their birthing experiences. Ultimately, she and Michael decided to carry their daughter to full term.
Several weeks later, a mutual friend introduced Brandi to Teresa Bennett-Yates and Robin Hicken, mothers of stillborn infants who founded Meagan and Austin’s Continued Journey, a non-profit dedicated to providing CuddleCots to hospitals in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Significantly impacting the infant bereavement process, the CuddleCot™ system cools and preserves a baby’s body, allowing families precious time to bond and make memories. Used most often with a Moses basket, the system can also be used in a bassinet, crib, or bed.
“In most cases involving infant loss, grieving parents have only minutes with their baby,” says Brandi. “However, the CuddleCot allows parents and family members to have as much time with their baby as possible.”
On August 23, 2017, at 9:52 a.m., Brandi gave birth to Emersyn Lynn Rogers.
“The nurse immediately placed Emersyn on my chest, where she stayed for the next 71 minutes of her life,” recalls Brandi. “She passed away at 11:03 a.m.”
With the help of the CuddleCot system, the Rogers family were able to extend their intimate and precious time with Emersyn for a little longer after she passed.
“We snuggled with her, slept with her, hugged her, memorized every beautiful feature – things most of us do not think we need until we realize this is the only time we will ever have with our baby,” says Brandi. “We captured family photos and videos that we will cherish forever, and our greatest joy in this experience was being able to see our daughter live.”
Michael and Brandi wanted to give this gift of time to other parents, so they partnered with the founders of Meagan and Austin’s Continued Journey. Together, they raised more than $6,000 to purchase two CuddleCot™ systems for McLeod Regional Medical Center in memory of Emersyn, which they presented to the organization on November 17, 2017.
“We could not imagine our birthing experience without the CuddleCot, and we want to ensure that other grieving parents have the opportunity to make forever memories with their baby,” added Brandi.
Marvin Owen, President of ACS Technologies in Florence, and his wife Beth Ann are longtime donors of the McLeod Health Foundation. Marvin is also extremely generous with the time he devotes to the Foundation, serving as both Treasurer of the McLeod Foundation Board and Chair of the Finance Committee.
Marvin’s connection to children’s healthcare began long before his association with the McLeod Health Foundation. Inspired by his father Dr. James Owen, a McLeod OB-GYN, Marvin planned on becoming a physician himself -- until his freshman year of college when he shadowed his father and observed him in action.
“I watched my father perform one C-section operation and quickly changed my major to Computer Science,” Marvin reflected with a laugh. Fortunately, this experience did not extinguish Marvin’s passion for children’s healthcare. Today, Marvin works tirelessly to ensure that his community has the best children’s hospital possible.
“As an employer of 400 people, I see their children and watch childhood medical issues come up,” explained Marvin. “I also have four children and six grandchildren of my own.”
One of these grandchildren, Jack, had to undergo open heart surgery at just three months of age.
“I learned firsthand how important Children’s Hospitals are,” said Marvin. “Jack is now eight-years-old, and doing great.”
One of Marvin’s main contributions to the Children’s Hospital is his yearly involvement in the McLeod Children’s Hospital Golf Classic. Marvin’s company, ACS Technologies, has been a sponsor of the tournament for five years, and Marvin serves on the tournament’s planning committee, working to bring in additional sponsors from the business community.
“The Golf Classic is the premier golf outing in Florence, and all funds raised go directly to helping McLeod Children’s Hospital,” Marvin explained. “It’s a rewarding effort.”
The most recent Foundation-funded addition to the Children’s Hospital is a new treatment room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Having a treatment room in the PICU – where children can have blood drawn, IVs inserted, and other special procedures administered -- allows the patient room to feel safe, eliminating fears and minimizing pain. The new treatment room features a child-friendly treatment table, vein finders (for accurate, onetime needle sticks), and fun, engaging decorations.
As a donor and supporter of the McLeod Foundation, Marvin’s hard work and generosity continues to help McLeod Children’s Hospital add new technology and equipment to provide the best healthcare possible for the region.
Grey Raines and his family are motivated by a mission to carry on his father’s legacy by supporting the McLeod Health Foundation. Grey’s father, Mark Raines, founder of Raines Hospitality Group in Florence, was a loyal supporter of the McLeod Children’s Hospital. From regular financial contributions to providing complimentary hotel rooms to families traveling for treatment at the Children’s Hospital, Mark was deeply committed to children’s healthcare throughout his life.
“My cousin was born with a heart defect, and had to undergo several surgeries early in life,” recalled Grey. “This experience demonstrated to him the need for a great Children’s Hospital.”
One of Mark’s favorite events to benefit the McLeod Children’s Hospital was the Annual Raines Hospitality Hot Dog Eating Contest.
“The hot dog contest started 16 years ago as a fun way to bring our employees together,” said Grey. “As it grew, it evolved into a charity event to support McLeod Children’s Hospital.”
As Raines Hospitality has expanded from a single hotel to nine – with five more currently under construction – what started as a small event for fewer than 20 employees, has now grown to include more than 300. Last year, the contest raised $5,000 for the Children’s Hospital.
Grey takes great pride in watching his father’s hot dog eating contest be an ongoing event, and flourish.
“The contest was Dad’s biggest event -- he thought about it all the time,” Grey recalled with a smile.
“And, as our business continues to grow, so will the impact we make on McLeod Children’s Hospital.”
In 2015, Mark began receiving care from McLeod Hospice for a chronic lung disease. Mark’s final days in the McLeod Hospice House in December of that year led the family to extend their support of the McLeod Foundation to include McLeod Hospice.
In 2017, the family was honored to be asked to represent all McLeod Hospice families in lighting the trees during the annual “A Light for Someone You Love” ceremony, which benefits the McLeod Hospice program.
benefits the McLeod Hospice program. “We saw firsthand how patients and families benefit from Hospice care during a very difficult time. It was a blessing for our family and we want to ensure other families receive that same level of excellent care in the years to come,” added Grey.
One year after beginning fertility treatments, Preston and Abigayle Shuey of New Zion, South Carolina, were overjoyed to learn that they were expecting twins. In August 2014, they welcomed their son, Hudson and daughter, Hadley.
Due to low blood sugar levels, Hudson received care in the McLeod Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a brief time. After his discharge from the NICU, Hudson roomed in with Abigayle while doctors continued to monitor his levels.
Abigayle, Hudson, and Hadley were soon released from the hospital, and the family of four enjoyed every moment of their new adventure – until the unthinkable happened. In November 2014, Preston and Abigayle were devastated at the sudden passing of Hudson at only three months old.
“Paula Boyd, Hudson’s NICU nurse, reached out to me to offer condolences shortly after we lost Hudson,” recalls Abigayle. “It meant the world to us that she thought enough of our son to not only still remember him three months later but to think enough of him to reach out to us during such a devastating time.”
In the days ahead, the Shueys experienced an outpouring of love and support from family and friends.
“As we looked at everyone who attended Hudson’s funeral, Preston and I realized that he had already made a huge impact on the people in his life,” says Abigayle. “As time passed, however, my husband and I wanted to do something in his honor so that his life would not be forgotten.”
In 2017, Preston and Abigayle decided to donate to the McLeod NICU since both Hudson and their youngest son, Holden, spent time there. Although unsure of what to donate, the Shueys wanted to provide something that Hudson also benefited from. Preston reached out to the McLeod Foundation and learned that the NICU was in need of mamaRoos®, a special infant seat that mimics the natural motions parents use to soothe their babies.
“This was perfect because we had a mamaRoo® with the twins, and it was Hudson’s favorite place to be,” says Abigayle. The Shueys then learned that the NICU needed six mamaRoos®. They did not know if they could afford to provide all of them, but due to the overwhelming support of friends and family, the Shueys were able to purchase all six mamaRoos® as well as inserts and covers for each one.
On November 8, 2017, Preston and Abigayle, along with three-year-old Hadley and one-year-old Holden, presented the donation to the McLeod NICU in honor of Hudson. Each mamaRoo® bears a plaque with Hudson’s name.
The infant seats will be used with NICU patients suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition caused by an infant’s exposure to drugs in the womb. Infants often go through withdrawals after birth and require a quiet, calm environment. The soothing motions of the mamaRoo® will greatly benefit babies suffering from this condition while they undergo treatment.
“I believe if Hudson had grown up, he would be the one to help others,” says Abigayle. “He actually is part of the reason Hadley continued to grow in utero because he helped her get the nutrients she could not get on her own due to the way he was positioned.
“Though his life was short, Hudson made an incredible impact on everyone around him, and Preston and I feel blessed to make this donation in his memory so that he will never be forgotten.”
Thomas and Gray Hunter are grateful for the specialized women’s and newborn care they received at McLeod Regional Medical Center during the birth of their baby girl.
When the day finally came for Thomas and Gray Hunter to welcome their first child, Marion Gray, into the world, they fully expected a routine birth. There were no complications until the day of delivery.
Joy quickly turned to fear when the McLeod staff discovered the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around Marion’s neck. Gray’s physician quickly decided that emergency actions were needed to treat the baby.
“Both Marion and I lost a lot of blood,” explained Gray.
When Marion did not cry, the situation became even more frightful. The newborn was rushed to the McLeod Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where she was given a blood transfusion.
Several hours later, Thomas and Gray visited Marion in the NICU. Marion’s skin, still blue from the lack of blood, made her “look so helpless with all the tubes and wires coming out of her,” recalled Gray.
Finally, Marion’s color returned. Although Marion was now in good condition, the stress of the day rendered Gray unable to produce breastmilk.
Knowing how vital breastfeeding is to the health of both the child and the mother, a McLeod Lactation Consultant worked with Gray on her breastfeeding techniques.
Thanks to its talented and dedicated labor and delivery staff, as well as the region’s only NICU, McLeod ensured not only that Gray was mother to a healthy baby girl, but that she and her child would reap the many benefits breastfeeding provides.
“The fact that McLeod has a NICU could have been the difference in life or death for Marion. I thank God for McLeod every night,” said Gray.
Thomas is also extremely thankful for the high level of care provided at McLeod Children’s Hospital, which would not be possible without support from the McLeod Health Foundation, he explained.
“The McLeod Health Foundation plays a crucial role in helping to ensure the availability of certain services within the McLeod Health system. After our daughter utilized the services of the Children’s Hospital, I have a much deeper appreciation for the impact each donor has on individual patients.”
This appreciation has led Thomas and Gray to become donors to the McLeod Foundation themselves.
“Contributions to the McLeod Health Foundation,” said Thomas, “allow you to have an impact on the community that is very tangible and extremely rewarding.”
The McLeod Health Foundation has been impacting the healthcare of those living in northeastern South Carolina through philanthropy since 1986. With the addition of McLeod Health Clarendon to the McLeod Health team of hospitals in 2016, the work of the Foundation now extends into Clarendon County and the surrounding communities.
“We have the opportunity to touch more than a million lives in the 15-county region we serve,” said Jill Bramblett, Executive Director of the McLeod Health Foundation. “We look forward to working with our healthcare teams and donors in Clarendon County to fund programs and services that support patient care at McLeod Health Clarendon.” Thanks to the dedicated efforts of community leaders who serve on the McLeod Foundation’s Clarendon Advisory Board, the Foundation is able to determine the specific needs of the patients who live in Clarendon County.
These members include Travis McIntosh, Chairman; Charlie Allen; Kelly Brown; Betty Coffey; Edward Frye; Louis Griffith; William Johnson; Frank Jones; Pat McNeil; Kay Prothro and Ron Wingard.
In 2016, the McLeod Foundation funded a number of projects at McLeod Health Clarendon totaling $212,000. These funds were used to purchase new state-of-the-art medical equipment and other items that enhance patient care at the hospital.
One area that benefitted from this funding was Labor and Delivery. The unit requested funds to purchase phototherapy overhead lights and a fiberoptic portable biliblanket for infant jaundice.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborn infants that can affect both full-term and premature babies. This temporary condition usually presents during the first week of a baby’s life causing the skin and whites of their eyes to appear yellow. Jaundice typically occurs because newborns produce an excess of bilirubin during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Bilirubin is removed from the bloodstream by the liver. However, in a newborn the body may produce more bilirubin than the liver can process.
The most common form of treatment for infant jaundice is phototherapy or light treatment. During this process, light is used to eliminate bilirubin in the blood.
As the baby’s skin and blood absorb the light waves it changes the bilirubin so it can be passed out of the baby’s system through urine or stool.
“In the past, when a baby needed phototherapy for jaundice, bulky equipment prevented our team from being able to place all of the required equipment in a patient’s room. Understandably, this often led to separation anxiety for the family having to be apart from their newborn,” said Debi Love Ballard, Director of Labor and Delivery.
“Through the purchase of the phototherapy overhead lights and biliblanket, we are now able to keep infants requiring therapy and their families together.”
“Generous donations by our community, staff and volunteers allow the McLeod Foundation to fund projects that will benefit our patients and their families for years to come,” explained Carrie Anna Strange, Director of the McLeod Foundation at McLeod Health Clarendon. “The programs and services we support go beyond the hospital walls and reach straight into the heart of the communities we serve.”
The McLeod Foundation has embarked on “It’s Time,” a capital campaign for McLeod Health. This continues a commitment to excellence inspired by Dr. F. H. McLeod in 1899 when his vision for the Florence Infirmary began.
Support will help with the provision of the latest technology with 3D Mammography and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Monitors in addition to funds to supplement costs of construction for a new Emergency Department at McLeod Regional Medical Center. These important enhancements will ensure that McLeod Health offers the highest quality care to patients from the midlands to the coast.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Monitors
Time and again, grateful patients directly impacted by excellent health care wish to give back so others can have the same experience. For Amy Urquhart, the care given to her daughter in the McLeod Neonatal Intensive Care Unit seven years ago inspired her to support the McLeod NICU.
In June of 2010, Amy’s daughter Cate arrived six weeks early, weighing only four pounds. Amy had been diagnosed with preeclampsia and was in danger of suffering a stroke because of extremely high blood pressure. Understanding that delivering Cate early was the only way to reduce her risk of a stroke, Amy and her husband Derick accepted the decision knowing Cate would receive the best care possible in the McLeod NICU.
“Cate spent three weeks in the NICU, and I know she would not have thrived without this specialized care. The team of physicians and nurses wrapped their loving, skilled hands around Cate and helped guide us as new parents in how to care for our beautiful daughter,” said Amy.
“Often people take for granted what is important or what we have access to in Florence. Derick and I never expected to need the NICU, but we are grateful that McLeod has a Children’s Hospital with this level of care. It was wonderful and comforting to have these quality services so close to home.”
Amy and Derick’s support of the “It’s Time” campaign and the new NICU Monitors recently benefitted Amanda Allen’s daughter, Olivia. Like Amy, Amanda had developed preeclampsia but in a more severe form. At 30 weeks into her pregnancy, Amanda was hospitalized for blood pressure monitoring and testing. When she suddenly began experiencing the beginning stages of liver and kidney failure, the decision was to deliver Olivia early to save Amanda’s life.
“Olivia spent eight weeks in the McLeod NICU,” said Amanda. “I saw her for the first time 24 hours after birth, and it was an overwhelming moment. She looked peaceful, but there were so many machines, IV lines and monitors surrounding her. I felt like there was nothing I could do for her, which is difficult for a new mom.”
Amanda and her husband Harry quickly found comfort knowing Olivia was being cared for by a team of physicians and nurses who made them feel like family. “They shared in our jubilation when Olivia reached milestones, and they were a shoulder to cry on when she experienced a setback. When Olivia was discharged two months later, they really felt like an extension of our family,” added Amanda.
Through the generosity of donors like the Urquharts, the McLeod Foundation has purchased 38 new NICU monitors. These monitors are capable of providing more in-depth data on heart rhythm and oxygen flow as well as more accurate readings of a baby’s blood pressure. Additionally, the monitors feature the latest in pulse oximetry technology, which greatly aids in the prevention of retinopathy, a cause of blindness and other long-term health problems in premature babies. Other advantages of the new NICU monitors include:
On May 13, 2015, Brett and Shawn Burroughs of Whiteville, North Carolina, welcomed their second daughter, Indiana, into the world. Named after the infamous character Indiana Jones, Indiana showed all signs of a healthy baby girl.
“Compared to our first child, Piper, Indiana was much calmer and slept more,” recalls Shawn.
Two weeks later, during a routine check-up, Indiana’s pediatrician Dr. Erin Smith discovered a heart murmur.
As a high school coach, I am around many students who have heart murmurs, so Shawn and I were not too concerned at first,” explains Brett.
Dr. Smith immediately referred the Burroughs to Dr. Charles Trant, McLeod Pediatric Cardiologist.
Board certified in pediatric cardiology, Dr. Trant treats children with congenital and acquired heart disease. He conducts evaluations of heart murmurs, chest pain, syncope, palpitations, and arrhythmias. He also performs and interprets pediatric echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, tilt table tests and stress tests.
At the appointment, Dr. Trant performed an EKG and echocardiogram in his office.
The diagnostic testing indicated that Indiana had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), and Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA).
“Dr. Trant brought us in and explained that there were a few problems,” recalls Brett. “Shawn and I became very fearful at that point.”
Dr. Trant explained that the heart has two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). The right side of the heart -- the right atrium and right ventricle -- pumps blood to the lungs, and the left side of the heart -- the left atrium and left ventricle -- pumps blood to the rest of the body
Atrial Septal Defect is a heart defect where there is a hole in the upper chamber of the heart. As a result, the heart pumps extra blood to the lungs. Similarly, Ventricular Septal Defect is a heart defect where there is a hole in the lower chamber of the heart, which also results in extra blood being pumped to the lungs.
Patent Ductus Arteriosis is a congenital heart defect where the blood vessel that connects the heart’s two major arteries does not close after birth and allows blood to flow into the lungs. This adds stress to the heart and if left untreated, can lead to congestive heart failure.
“Children born with heart defects have either Ventricular Septal Defect or Atrial Septal Defect coupled with the Patent Ductus Arteriosis, but having all three is much less common,” says Dr. Trant. “What hurt Indiana most was that these conditions could cause problems individually, yet all three were contributing to congestive heart failure (CHF).
“At the initial visit, Indiana looked good, but infants with heart defects frequently do at such an early stage. Most infants do not show signs of CHF until approximately six to eight weeks after birth.”
Brett and Shawn continued to monitor Indiana over the next two months and remained diligent with feedings every two hours and frequent weighing.
Indiana gained approximately three pounds in that time, but then her growth stalled for a couple of weeks. Shawn also noticed Indiana grunting during her feedings.
Concerned over these symptoms, Brett and Shawn called Dr. Trant, and he recommended they bring her in for another evaluation, as these were the initial symptoms of CHF.
“Feeding problems are typically the first place we see issues in children with heart problems,” says Dr. Trant. “Drinking a bottle is about the most vigorous exercise for a baby. If the heart is not working well, feedings become more difficult.”
Dr. Trant put Indiana on two medications to treat the CHF, and her condition improved for a short time. When Indiana’s weight stalled again, he slightly adjusted her formula and medications to “buy more time” before considering surgery.
“I try to be appropriately aggressive and medically manage my patients for as long as possible,” explains Dr. Trant. “The benefits of surgery do not always outweigh the risks, so we must ensure a high benefit and low risk to justify open-heart surgery.”
On September 16, 2015, Indiana met what is called “maximum medical benefit,” meaning Dr. Trant did everything he could from a medical standpoint to keep her going, but this was now a surgical problem.
“From the beginning, Shawn and I prepared ourselves for the possibility of surgery, but we were still crushed,” recalls Brett. “Yet, in the midst of what felt like defeat, we understood that this was the best option for Indiana.”
Indiana was transferred for the repair of her Atrial Septal Defect, Ventricular Septal Defect, and Patent Ductus Arteriosis to a facility where these types of specialized surgeries are performed. She tolerated the surgery extr emely well and no longer suffers from heart failure.
“She has recovered like a champ,” says Dr. Trant.
Today, Indiana has a clean bill of health and enjoys the same activities as most one-year-olds -- crawling, playing with balls and anything Minnie Mouse, eating yogurt melts, and playing with her big sister, Piper.
“Thank you cannot adequately describe our appreciation for Dr. Trant,” says Brett. “His compassion and concern for Indiana meant a great deal to us. We had complete trust in him, and he will always be a part of our life. We also find comfort in having these quality services available to us so close to home.”
Indiana will require long-term followup with Dr. Trant, even into adulthood, since adult cardiologists in general do not have training in congenital heart disease.
“Shawn and I consider this entire journey a blessing, and we know this is part of God’s plan for Indiana’s life,” recalls Brett.
Today, the family looks forward to all the adventures in store for Indiana.