Jack RowlandIn their words

Ali Dabbs and Landon Rowland
Keokuk, Iowa

"Our 4-month-old son Jack stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. He was taken to a local hospital where emergency staff were able to get his heart beating again. He was then flown by helicopter to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. He went 23 minutes without oxygen on the way to our local hospital and another 15 minutes without oxygen when his heart stopped in the helicopter.

Once Jack arrived at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, the emergency department staff established a pulse and got him stabilized. He was then transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

My experience in the PICU at UI Stead Family Children's Hospital was scary and devastating, but I felt comforted by the staff’s genuine concern and compassion while they were caring for my son. I'll never forget the calm and poised demeanor of Christina Cifra, MD, in the midst of a crisis, or how Kari Wellnitz, MD, began to tear up as she tried to describe myoclonic jerking to me – sudden, involuntary muscle spasms – and how studies suggest why it occurs. I'll never forget Nurse Brynn's diligence as she was constantly assessing and adjusting vasopressors every 15 minutes that first night in the PICU, I don't think she took a break. I'll never forget how Nurse Emma would address my son, Jack, as if he was awake every single time she pushed a medication or how she helped me bathe him and comb the glue from his EEG out of his hair for over an hour. I'll never forget Nurse Amanda and how she listened to me with such compassion as I cried and vented to her about what happened to Jack at 3 in the morning or that extremely emotional moment when she placed Jack in my arms for the first time in five days. Lastly, I'll never forget Shilpa Balikai, MD, when she placed her hand on mine as she called Jack's time of death.

All of these I just mentioned have impacted me for a lifetime and as a nursing student about to graduate I look up to and admire all of them tremendously. Yes, my experience was sad indeed, but I am thankful that the PICU staff was there for Jack, me, and our family every step of the way."

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