Feb. 1, 2023 | iCare Newsletter
by Foundation Staff

Paying it Forward

Anna and Greg Johnson’s NICU journey inspired them to give back.

When Anna Johnson’s doctor told her she would need an emergency C-section to save her unborn child’s life, her emotions were mixed. She and her husband Greg had struggled to conceive; and when the good news finally came, they believed Anna’s pregnancy was a miracle. But now, it seemed all they could do was pray for a safe delivery for their premature baby.

“We went to Hoops Family Children’s Hospital for the birth,” Anna recalled. “The doctor held up our baby — a surprise boy! — then whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I saw him just for a few seconds. I couldn’t hold him.”

Due to complications of her own, including another surgery, Anna didn’t see her baby for another 36 hours. Her recovery took weeks. That left Greg to work alone with the NICU team in caring for tiny Russell.

“I was an only child; I’d never even held a baby before,” Greg said. “If it wasn’t for the patience and concern of those NICU nurses, I don’t know how I would have managed.”

While Anna’s recovery was slow, baby Russell’s was even slower. Born more than six weeks premature, his lungs needed time to develop. He was at risk of jaundice and other complications. His first days and weeks were spent almost entirely in an incubator. Greg learned to change diapers and feeding tubes and which buttons to push on various monitors attached to their tiny son.

“I was so proud of Greg,” Anna said. “He stepped up to do everything during our stay at Hoops. But I really have to credit the staff at the hospital for walking with us through what was a tremendous challenge, not just while we were in the hospital, but even after we brought Russell home.”

Greg said the Hoops medical team went above and beyond in their care and support.

“I was practically helpless when we went in for Anna’s surgery and delivery. But when we walked out to bring Russell home, I felt confident and secure in the knowledge that we could do this — we could be the parents that our baby needs us to be,” he said.

Anna said they decided then to become members of the Medallion Society, the dedicated support network behind the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital and other major projects within the Mountain Health Network. Founded by David and LaVern Meadows, the Medallion Society is a dynamic giving program that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people across central Appalachia.

“We were so blessed, we just had to give back to help others in the community who may need the kind of help we received,” Anna said. “Every time I hold Russell, I’m reminded that he is a precious, heavenly gift. And without the special care we received from the staff at Hoops, I don’t know how we would have made it.”

For more information about helping others as a member of the Medallion Society, contact Kristi Arrowood at Kristi.Arrowood@chhi.org or click here.