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From fighting to survive to thriving

By all accounts, Addison Kline Bell, 6, is a typical kindergartner. She takes dance classes and
gymnastics lessons, participates in Daisy Girl Scouts and enjoys playing with her big sister, Vera Kate.But her life now stands in stark contrast to how she came into this world: four weeks premature with no heartbeat for 20 minutes.

Addison’s mom, Stephanie, said her daughter’s miraculous evolution – from a 4 lb. 6 oz. preemie to thriving kindergartner – was made possible by a cooling treatment she received shortly after birth and the expert care from her Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.

“We believe the cooling blanket is the reason why Addison is with us and is developing physically and cognitively like she should,” Stephanie said.

Addison was the first infant in the NICU to receive a special cooling blanket. Research has shown that infants whose brains and other organs have been deprived of oxygen during birth may do better with their core temperature are lowered to 91 degrees and slowly raised back to 98 degrees over the course of 72 hours. The blankets are now standard therapy at the hospital.

“After our experience with Addison, the NICU became a part of us,” she said. “All the nurses, doctors and staff were so caring and compassionate during our time there; it left a big impression on our hearts.”

When Stephanie learned that proceeds from Preemie Cup, a fundraising event, were used to purchase the cooling blankets that saved her daughter’s life, she knew she had to get involved. She became chair of the event in 2011. Over the past 16 years, the event has generated more than $477,000 in proceeds benefiting the NICU.

“We are so lucky to have such an amazing NICU in our area,” she said. “Many people don’t understand the value of having a NICU until they have an infant whose life depends on it.”

Stephanie said Addison enjoys telling everybody that she was born with no heartbeat.

“She really thinks she’s something special,” she said. “Every time we attend a NICU reunion or the Preemie Cup event, she thinks it’s for her.”