On June 11, 2004, Rosaleen Rinzler gave birth to her son Joshua at the Jewish General Hospital. He was born at 24 weeks gestation, and weighed just over one pound. After Joshua had spent 6 months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Rinzler was finally able to take him home. Joshua became the fifth-smallest baby to survive at the JGH at the time.
Rinzler is now co-chair of the Tiny Miracle Fund, a JGH Auxiliary initiative that aims to collect funds in order to purchase equipment to save the lives of preemies. This equipment will be used in the JGH’s new NICU, which is planned to open in January 2016. This includes anything from incubators to ventilators — anything the unit needs in order to save lives. All of this can be quite costly: transfer incubators cost about $35,000, Giraffe incubators about $65,000, and oscillating ventilators cost about $75,000.
“Being the mother of a child that was saved by this unit, I felt completely indebted and wanted to give back,” Rinzler said. “When I heard that the Auxiliary was starting a special fund to purchase much needed state-of the-art equipment for its new NICU, I was immediately drawn to the cause.”
The fund began collecting donations last November, just in time for World Prematurity Day, which took place on Nov. 17. Since, it has raised funds with its “incubator piggy bank,” guest-speaker events, fairs, raffles, and even a concert. So far, $250,000 has been raised, and the Tiny Miracle Fund presented a cheque in that amount to the Auxiliary on Monday. Rinzler said the Fund hopes to raised another $250,000 by April 2016.
Rinzler and her co-chair, Mindy Shear, whose son was also born premature, plan on organizing a walk-a-thon next fall.
The Tiny Miracle Fund also launched a Preemie Awareness Campaign this year. Different schools in the Montreal area participated by asking students to donate $2 and to wear something purple.
On Monday, Nov. 17, special events were held at the JGH’s main lobby, in honour of WPD and the many doctors and nurses who work in saving the lives of preemies. In Canada, one in 10 babies are born prematurely. The JGH is one of the largest birthing centres in Quebec. Every year, 4,500 babies are born in the hospital. Of those, about 700 are admitted to the NICU. The JGH NICU has the best provincial newborn survival record in the province. The smallest newborn ever to survive at the JGH’s NICU weighed 0.827 pounds.
For more information, to donate and or to get involved in the Tiny Miracle Fund Project, call the Auxiliary at 514-340-8216 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.