Blog - The Griffin Family: Responding to tragedy by building community

At the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) we have been deeply moved by the story of Kate Griffin and her family. During Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Week 2019, September 16 to 22, Kate Griffin will, for the second year, serve as an ambassador for the annual event that raises more money for the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) than any other community fundraiser. Here is some of Kate’s story, in her own words:

In January 2010 our twins, Bryant and Colton, were born at 25 weeks gestation at KHSC's Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site. Before that we had little knowledge of the NICU at KGH and what resources we had right here in Kingston.

My doctor had warned me that I likely wouldn’t carry to full-term given it was a twin pregnancy and that I should expect to welcome my babies about a month early. I knew that a stay in the NICU for the boys was likely but I was still naive to what the NICU was.

On January 19, we learned very quickly what the NICU was and all that it could offer to our tiny babies.

Upon their arrival, Bryant, weighing 1 lbs. 3oz, and Colton, weighing 1 lbs. 7oz, were each met with a team of doctors, nurses, medical students and others. They both required ventilation shortly after birth, needed help regulating their body temperature, had IV’s put in and numerous other procedures in their first few days of birth.

After ten days of fighting, Bryant lost his struggle with prematurity and died in our arms.

Colton continued to fight in critical condition for many weeks. He required a wide range of special equipment to make his stay in the NICU a comfortable one and a successful one. Colton remained in the NICU at KHSC for 117 days and came home in May 2010.

With a healthy eight year-old who’s reading above grade level, playing five different sports with no long-term health effects from being born 15 weeks early, we know all about the NICU and how important these resources are for our community.

Since the boys’ birth, the care in the NICUs across Canada has shifted to include families in the care of their children, no matter how sick or how small they are. Brandon and I now volunteer as veteran parents in the NICU as a part of this family-integrated care. We meet with those who currently have babies in the hospital to share our story, answer questions and offer encouragement. Although we haven’t had a child in the NICU for eight years, we are still reminded of the importance of care in our NICU.

I remember back to when I was in labour with our boys, not knowing if a baby born at 25 weeks could survive. Now I know all about our NICU and these babies can survive with a lot of support from the staff, a lot of support from equipment, a lot of support from their families and a lot of support from the community through donations to UKHF.

Our family is forever grateful for the care our children were given in the NICU here in Kingston.