Collins Michelle Kohlberg was born on August 23, 2019. A few months before her birthday we learned that she suffered from a condition called anencephaly, which meant that her brain had not formed normally and if she made it to delivery, she likely would not survive long after birth. Collins spent almost 11 hours here with us before she got her angel wings, and in that time she changed the world for those who loved her. She taught us what it means to love, to cherish the little time we have with one another, and to lean on our faith in the face of overwhelming adversity. Though it has been a tough journey since we received her diagnosis, our wish has always been that Collins's life will be celebrated in a way that helps other children and families.
To celebrate Collins's first birthday, we're doing just that by partnering with World Pediatric Project and supporting their initiatives to expand access to neonatal care and reduce infant mortality. We were fortunate to receive excellent care and guidance throughout our journey and projects like this help to ensure that all families receive the care they need, especially when critical interventions are necessary to protect mothers and children.
When a birth doesn’t go as planned – when a baby is born too soon, or when there’s a complication with the delivery or when a baby is unhealthy at birth – the care that the baby receives in the first minutes, hours and days of life are of tremendous importance. Timely, appropriate care can save a baby’s life and prevent damage to the brain and other organs that can have lifelong consequences. Caring for critically ill newborns is a challenge anywhere, and especially in the Eastern Caribbean. Population centers in the Eastern Caribbean are generally too small to support doctors and nurses with intensive specialization in neonatal care. Resource constraints and supply chain limitations prevent hospitals from having the equipment and medications that would be ideal in caring for newborns, and geographic isolation makes it difficult to transport patients to centers that specialize in neonatal care.
Since 2012, World Pediatric Project has partnered with hospitals and ministries of health in the Eastern Caribbean to build the capabilities of neonatal critical care units that together care for approximately 1500 patients each year. Training teams led by experts from the United States, including many from St. Louis, have led workshops and provided hands-on training to build the capacity of neonatal critical care units, especially in the areas of respiratory support, nutrition, and infection prevention. WPP has also helped equipped centers with critical medical equipment such as ventilators, incubators, and monitoring equipment that enhances the long-term capabilities of centers in the region. WPP has also fostered a community of neonatal care practitioners in the region who meet together to find collaborative solutions to the challenges facing centers throughout the region. Through these partnerships with the talented, dedicated doctors and nurses of the Eastern Caribbean, WPP has helped to bring the promise of life and health to children facing serious health challenges as their lives begin.