Couple whose twins died pushes for more sound-proofing to help newborns in hospital
Published Tuesday, January 6, 2015 4:42PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, January 6, 2015 7:41PM CST
A sign of celebration for many brings up painful memories for Joelle and Tim Brown.
“Anytime we see fireworks, I can't stop crying because I think about our children and just that feeling of helplessness and not being able to do anything,” said Joelle Brown.
“This is a celebration. It's a joyful thing, but the unintended consequences of celebration (are) pain,” said Tim Brown.
The couple’s twins, Aelyn and Declan, were born prematurely at only 24 weeks.
They went into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Boniface Hospital.
A ward where even speaking above a whisper is not allowed.
But across the river, Canada Day fireworks at The Forks began.
“It was literally like cannons were going off right outside the NICU window,” said Joelle Brown.
The Browns say the noise added more stress to the already fragile twins, especially their daughter, Aelyn.
“She was clearly frightened. She was red and stiff and her vitals were going all over the place,” said Joelle.
They feel all babies on the ward were affected that night.
“The staff there had mentioned that they absolutely hate it when there are fireworks because of how the sound affects the babies there,” said Joelle.
Aelyn and Declan passed away the next day.
The Browns aren't blaming the fireworks, and can't thank hospital staff enough for the care they gave their babies, but wish there were something to protect newborns from external noise.
Pediatrician Dr. Stan Lipnowski said newborns are especially prone to stress from noise.
“Especially the premature babies –t hey don't need to have a very big increase in their blood pressure because their brains are not formed and theoretically high blood pressure gets transmitted to the brain and can damage it as well,” he said.
The WRHA says St.Boniface's neonatal intensive care unit does have monitors that go off when sound reaches a certain level, which are not set off by the fireworks.
The Browns hope to add other measures.
“If the legacy of Aelyn and Declan can be improving things for other babies in the NICU, that's what we want,” said Joelle.
The Browns plan to hold a fundraiser for St. Boniface Foundation with money to go towards adding measures, which could include sound-proof bassinette covers.
The Browns said people can also donate directly to St. Boniface Foundation and ask that your dollars go toward sound-proofing the NICU.
On Tuesday, hospital staff invited the Browns to meet to discuss their concerns and ideas to reduce noise levels.