Honoring Josie

Contributions totaling $10,555 in Josie’s memory have provided 96 nights for families at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House.

Our second daughter, Josephine “Josie” Carys Hammond, arrived in a hurry at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center on Saturday, July 14. Unfortunately, Josie developed meconium aspiration syndrome at birth and required intensive care in the NICU at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center for her first week of life before she was finally discharged home with a clean bill of health.

We were fortunate to spend two wonderful weeks at home with Josie and her 2-year-old sister, Gwen, before the unimaginable happened: Josie inexplicably stopped breathing in the middle of the day. She required CPR until paramedics arrived and took her back to the hospital in Athens, where they were able to regain a pulse before life-flighting her to the PICU Scottish Rite.

Coming to Atlanta

The next two weeks were a whirlwind of tests and treatments filled with stressful days full of ups and downs. Thanks to the excellent care by the Scottish Rite PICU staff Josie seemed to be improving. Then we received the devastating news that her brain had suffered a massive anoxic injury that would prevent her from ever being able to wake up.

Given this information, we had to make the impossibly difficult decision to remove Josie from the ventilator. She passed away peacefully in our arms on Saturday, Aug. 18, exactly five weeks after she was born. While it will never make up for our sweet Josie bear being taken from us so early, it is comforting to know that she was unaware of everything that happened to her over those two weeks and did not suffer.

Ronald McDonald House

While Josie’s story did not have the happy ending that she deserved, we were blown away by the outpouring of support from our family and friends, without whom we would not have been able to get through this terrible situation. And the same goes for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House near Scottish Rite.

At the urging of one of the social workers in the ICU, we applied for a room at the House and the staff welcomed us with open arms. We were provided with a comfortable place to stay along with our other daughter and her grandmother, Sue, allowing our family to stay together through this extremely difficult time.

Gwen loved exploring the treehouse and was especially enamored with the giant teddy bears. We were also immensely grateful for the freshly prepared meals and snacks provided by smiling volunteers that our family could enjoy together every day.  The House served as a refuge away from the constant alarms of the ICU and allowed our family to regroup every evening before returning to the hospital every day for Josie.

We are thankful to our friends and family who were generous in their donations to Atlanta RMHC in Josie’s memory. And today, other families can receive assistance in her honor.  While we hope that no other family has to go through what we experienced, it is good to know that RMHC is there to support families in their time of need.

—Josh and Katie

We are thankful to our friends and family who were generous in their donations to Atlanta RMHC in Josie’s memory. And today, other families can receive assistance in her honor.  While we hope that no other family has to go through what we experienced, it is good to know that RMHC is there to support families in their time of need.

—Josh and Katie Hammond