Read More About our Story on Keira's Blog
Richard & Keira Sorrells founded the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation as a way to give back to the preemie community in a tangible way. Their triplet daughters were born at 25 weeks, 5 days each weighing between 1lb 4oz and 1lb 10oz. The Sorrells’ are no strangers to the many triumphs and challenges that occur along the NICU journey and life beyond discharge.
In many ways The Sorrells’ have the best outcome and the worst outcome wrapped up in one pregnancy. The best in that their two surviving daughters (Avery and Lily), who spent 4 months in the NICU, are now six years old soon to be entering 1st grade with their same age peers. Despite early issues with reflux, feeding and weight gain, they have faced few other chronic medical conditions. Both daughters saw Early Intervention Therapists as infants and toddlers and continue to work with an Occupational Therapist on a regular basis to assist in managing Sensory Processing Disorder. Lily has had kidney reflux since birth but it has caused few complications for her thus far. All in all they are your typical adolescent girls who love to play dress-up, swim, and experiment with mom’s makeup.
Their sister Zoe had a very different course. She seemed to bear the brunt of their extremely premature birth. In her first month of life, Zoe endured four chest tubes, a PDA ligation surgery to close that particular valve, multiple medications to keep her “snowed”, and her organs began to shut down because she could only be fed IV fluids. She spent fourteen weeks on the ventilator resulting in a scarred vocal chord and extreme oral aversions which led to the placement of a g-tube.
When she was finally discharged after 291 days in the NICU, Zoe came home requiring continuous oxygen, hearing aids for profound hearing loss, home nursing care and all the medications, therapies, and specialist appointments that are so common with micropreemies. Through all of this she managed to maintain her vivacious personality and progressed well with Early Intervention services, being able to sit up unassisted for the first time when she was thirteen months old.
Most micropreemies have suppressed immune systems which can cause a slight cold to turn into a devastating illness quite quickly. Unfortunately they found themselves back in the PICU with Zoe in February 2008 due to influenza and pneumonia. She was discharged after five days but then rushed back a day and a half later, due to severe respiratory distress stemming from her previous illness. Zoe took her last breath in their arms the very next morning, on February 16, 2008. They later learned she had contracted a MRSA infection in her blood which attacked every organ in her body leading to her swift demise.
The Sorrells’ family has seen many ups and downs in the years since their NICU stay and Zoe’s death. They have seen miracles in and out of the NICU and have been humbled in the many ways Zoe’s short time on Earth has touched so many families across the country. While she never spoke a word, she had intense, knowing eyes and a smile that made her entire body shine. She wasn’t aware that she lived her life attached to various tubes and wires required for her survival, she was a happy, cuddly little girl with an innate strength that puts us adults to shame.
She taught us to give of ourselves, to love unconditionally and truly understand that grand gestures are not required to let someone know you care. She fought hard to stay alive all those months in the NICU and yet, in the end when her ultimate fight was almost over, she was so calm and peaceful. Keira will always remember the last moments when she saw her eyes open, Zoe reached up to twirl a piece of her mom's hair and squeezed her finger…it wasn’t a squeeze of desperation or out of pain, it was a squeeze of reassurance for Keira, her mother, that she was going to be just fine once she left this Earth.
"We can do no great things, only small things with great love" ~Mother Teresa