DAHLONEGA - A Lumpkin County family recently presented Northside Hospital with a donation to its "H.E.A.R.T. Strings Perinatal Palliative Care Program" which for families that have received a life-limiting diagnosis for their baby. The donation from Amber and Jonathan Jarrard of Dahlonega was in memory of the baby daughter lost less than 30 minutes after she was born.
Amber Jarrard was 16 weeks pregnant when she and Jonathan learned their unborn child would not survive. The baby had Triploidy, an extremely rare chromosomal disorder. On November 3, 2011, at 28 weeks, Chandra Reece Jarrard was delivered via cesarean section. She was the couple's second child and lived just 20 minutes.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, more than two million women endure pregnancy loss each year. After the Jarrards found out about Reece's condition, they were referred to Northside's H.E.A.R.T. Strings Program.
"When going through preparing for a loss of this magnitude, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Amber. "It was extremely helpful to have someone there who knew what questions to ask and what needed to be done. The amount of love and support was humbling."
"Through H.E.A.R.T. Strings, members of Northside's Perinatal Loss, Chaplaincy and Special Care Nursery teams work together with our families to develop a care plan based on their wishes for their unborn children," said Sandi Grizzard, RN, BSN, perinatal loss clinician, Northside Hospital. "The goal is to prevent and relieve suffering, promoting and supporting the best possible quality of life for infants and their families."
H.E.A.R.T. Strings families receive support before, during and after their delivery including email, phone and personal visits, support groups, referrals to hospice programs, and more.
Amber said that she and Jonathan knew right away that they wanted to give back to other families faced with a similar experience, but it was probably six months after Reece's birth that idea of the softball tournament came about. "We knew we wanted to do something to raise money in memory of Reece and to help support the H.E.A.R.T. Strings Program at Northside."
The first-ever One Pitch Men's/Co-Ed Charity Softball Tournament, benefitting H.E.A.R.T. Strings, was held Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at Rock Creek Park in Dawsonville, just days after Reece would have turned one.
"We wanted to celebrate the time we had with Reece and, by doing that, hopefully show other families that they can turn a tragedy into a story to share and an opportunity change lives," Amber said.
Turnout was better than expected, with 10 teams participating. Through team registrations, a Home Run Derby, ticket sales and concessions, $2,178 was raised for Northside's H.E.A.R.T. Strings Program.
"We are so grateful to the Jarrard family for their courage in helping to raise the level of understanding and compassion for families experiencing perinatal loss," said Melissa Sisson, director of the hospital's women's services. "Their generous donation will go far in providing support for other families."
Plans are already underway for the 2013 softball tournament. For more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, the Jarrards are looking forward tothe birth of their third child in August.
For more information about H.E.A.R.T. Strings and how to support the program at Northside Hospital, visit http://www.northsidepnl.com or http://www.northside.com and click on "Donations."