Nolan Mearon Beauvais has a fighting spirit »
On Monday, December 23, Nicole Beauvais and her husband Donte Mearon were at home in Chicago where Nicole was having what she termed an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy. She had just seen her ob/gyn – all things were going as expected – and at not even six-months pregnant, she and Donte had plenty of time to plan and get ready for the happy, springtime arrival of their first child.
Three days later, things took a quick turn.
The couple was in Minneapolis to spend the Christmas holiday with family. Nicole grew up in Minneapolis and they had also lived here for a time. On Christmas Day, Nicole started experiencing severe back pain and after a call home to her ob/gyn, she visited a nearby emergency room the next day, where life changed in an instant. At 23 and a half weeks gestation, she was determined to be in labor and was transported by ambulance (with lights and sirens) to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis.
“I kept saying to myself, ‘We’re going to stop this labor.’” Nicole is a physician’s assistant; she knew that premature labor was not uncommon, but she also knew that babies born before six months gestation often do not make it or face serious health challenges. Little Nolan Mearon Beauvais came swiftly into the world at 9:29 a.m. – just one hours after Nicole arrived at Children’s – weighing 1 pound, 8 ounces. Only 24 ounces.
He was tiny, but he had a fighting spirit, the care and expertise of Children’s Hospital and the love of his parents on his side. Nolan was in critical condition, with pulmonary issues which required him to be intubated in order to breathe. A few days later, an ultrasound revealed he had also suffered a brain bleed, which is common in preemies, resulting in hydrocephalus, which is excess fluid around the brain. He also had a severely compromised immune system given how early he was born.
Eight days into life, Nolan opened his eyes, which was a beautiful thing for Nicole and Donte to witness. However, two days later they received a call from the doctor stating “We’re very worried about your little guy.” Nolan had good days and less than good days, but he was slowly stabilizing in the NICU (Neonatal intensive care unit) after undergoing multiple surgeries. “We have come to be very happy with things being stable.” Nolan needed to be in an isolette, which is an incubator for preemies. If he was doing well, mom and dad would get to hold him once a day and he responded well to the skin-to-skin contact, which is known in the medical world as kangaroo care, commonly used with premature infants.
Throughout the past couple of months, Nicole and Donte have found a home-away-from-home at both the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s, Minneapolis, and the Ronald McDonald House – Oak Street. “We were thinking it was just a Christmas holiday,” Nicole says. “I only had maternity clothes and we had just our carry-ons. We had jobs back in Chicago, we didn’t have a car. And we needed to be here with Nolan.”
For the especially fragile, first ten days of Nolan’s life, Nicole and Donte stayed in one of the 15 sleeping rooms at the House inside the Hospital, just 50 steps away from intensive care. This allowed Nicole and Donte to be at Nolan’s bedside, no matter what the hour, during those critical and uncertain times. Donte is a painter and graphic artist and a recent painting of his, ‘Remember to Breathe,’ is already hanging in the house. He wanted to give something to the house that had given so very much to him during those trying, early days.
The Ronald McDonald House inside the Hospital exists so that parents have all the comforts of home and a place of respite during the most critical and often, scariest time of hospitalization. We provide all the things that parents need so that they are immediately available and ready for their children when they need it the most.
Nicole and Donte also stayed at Oak Street, the original house in the Twin Cities, which is available to families who come from over 60 miles away.
“You never know what you need until you need it,” Nicole says. “Laundry, toiletries, a snack, a place to sleep. Without the house, we would have been sleeping in the chair in the hospital room in dirty clothes! We even got to go to a Minnesota Wild game!” Providing time for families to just be together is an important part of the work that we do and local sports teams and arts groups are always generous in donating tickets for evenings out. “It’s support of everyday living.”
After 66 days, Nolan graduated to the ICC (infant care center) and weighed in at four pounds, ten ounces. “It’s awesome. Just amazing.” Nicole and Donte have both found work in the Twin Cities and have made a permanent move back to Minneapolis. Nolan was discharged shortly after April 20, his original due date.
It’s amazing how life can change in a matter 120 days.
This June, transplant patients and caregivers gathered together to formally unveil a piece of art dedicated to honoring the work of today’s Northwestern Medicine® Comprehensive Transplant Center staff, and everyone who came before them since Northwestern began performing organ transplants 50 years ago. The art, created by Donte Mearon, was signed with personal messages of gratitude by patients during a public celebration for the 50th anniversary of Northwestern Medicine’s organ transplant program.
Northwestern Medicine performed its first organ transplant in February, 1964. Today, Northwestern Medicine’s Comprehensive Transplant Center is one of the largest and most successful organ transplant centers in the America, and is a leader in living donor liver and kidney transplantation. Since 1964, Northwestern surgeons have performed more than 6,000 organ transplant surgeries and pioneered in transplantation research and technique. In order to make these critical services available to as many people as possible, Northwestern Medicine has opened satellite clinics in locations that include Peoria, Moline, Glenview and Joliet in Illinois, and Portage, Indiana. The Hispanic Transplant Program launched in 2006 making Northwestern the first institution in the country to have a specialized program dedicated to providing culturally sensitive transplant care to the Hispanic population.
To learn more about organ transplantation services at Northwestern Medicine, please visit the center’s website or call 312-695-8900.
Artist Donte Mearon creates vibrant and cheerful works made out of brightly colored acrylic paint and spray paint, inspired by Chicago. See “Chicago Loves Me” at Elephant Room, Inc., our 175 Days to Love Chicago pick for Monday, April 16. Mearon’s artwork includes paintings on a variety of mediums including wood and windows as well as artwork on apparel for adults and kids. Mearon uses the city of Chicago as his muse for creating his take on the skyline and Chicago residents’ relationship with the city. His work is vibrant and cheerful as he uses brightly colored acrylic paint and spray paint, as well as his signature characters. See Chicago artist Donte Mearon’s artwork at the exhibition “Chicago Loves Me” at Elephant Room, Inc. from April 16 – May 18. 2012. The public is invited to an opening reception on Thursday April 19, from 6:30 – 9 pm, giving guests the opportunity to meet the artist, view or purchase artwork, enjoy beverages, music and good company. 175 Days to Love Chicago celebrates Chicago’s 175th birthday with an exciting 175-day series of programs, promotions and fun history. Launching on the 175th anniversary of the city’s incorporation on March 4 and continuing through August 26, 2012, this cultural calendar offers visitors and residents exciting opportunities to explore Chicago every day. From special events to special packages at local hotels, the campaign showcases the breadth and vibrancy of Chicago’s cultural landscape. For more information, visit http://www.explorechicago.org/175days. – See more at: http://www.explorechicagoportfolio.com/ecblog/?p=4257#sthash.SDvLJJrl.dpuf
By Megan Welsh
Back in January, Justin and I had the honor of winning/purchasing a one of kind piece of artwork from local artist Donte Mearon (pictured below) titled “Chicago Loves Me” (read about it here). The next couple days after the Bear Necessities event, we would immediately stare in awe at it when we woke up, as we walked through the hallway, while we ate in the dining room, and before we went to bed. Only problem? This gorgeous piece of artwork was sitting on the floor leaning against the wall waiting to have a place it could call home. After choosing a subtle silver frame (black made it too dark and heavy, white made it too bright and cottage-y) we decided to hang it as a focal point in the hallway between the second bedroom, linen closet, and master bedroom enabling us to view it from the dining and living rooms. What do you think? Does “Chicago Loves Me” love its new home in our apartment or what?!