NorthShore’s Associate Board Motivated
by KJ’s Incredible Journey

 

Jennifer and Keelan Jones (above) had a game-time decision to make. After initially struggling to get pregnant, they were overjoyed to embark on what they assumed would be a normal pregnancy. But 23 weeks and five days in, something didn’t feel right.

Jennifer went to NorthShore Highland Park Hospital, where it was determined that baby KJ was on his way into the world—extremely early. The Joneses were then rushed to NorthShore Evanston Hospital to the Henrietta Johnson Louis Infant Special Care Unit (ISCU). 

KJ was born May 12, 2017, at 1 lb, 7 oz and began his 161-day journey in the ISCU fighting for his life. “I couldn’t have made it through those days without the staff there. I don’t know how any parent could,” Jennifer explained. 

Dr. Michael Caplan, Associate Board Benefit Co-Chair Sarah Beebe, Associate Board President Natalie Riemer, Benefit Co-Chair Kate Saeva, Dr. Emmet Hirsch, and Janet Winslow, LCSW

The Associate Board of NorthShore celebrated its 14th Annual Benefit March 2 raising nearly $110,000 for the Department of Pediatrics and the ISCU. A record-breaking 350 guests enjoyed Mardi Gras at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring a raffle, a silent auction, games and live entertainment, including a fortune teller.

Most of the proceeds from the Benefit support The Associate Board Emergency Family Fund, which assists underserved families in the ISCU, but proceeds also support the Annual ISCU Reunion Picnic and innovative research—led by Emmet Hirsch, MD—to prevent and treat preterm labor. 

The Joneses attended the March 2 Benefit and shared their ISCU journey with attendees. They talked about how ISCU staff were by KJ’s side as he went through a variety of procedures, such as using a ventilator to help with breathing, a nasogastric tube to help with feeding, and surgeries to correct his vision and mend a bilateral hernia. While KJ was still in the ISCU, he and his mother also participated in a research study funded by the Associate Board that examined the impact of a breast milk diet on extremely premature infants. Thanks to the efforts of many, KJ’s ISCU story has a happy ending. He’s off oxygen, has caught up with the size of his peers, and is developmentally and socially exactly where he needs to be. His parents couldn’t be more proud. 

“KJ is nearly 2 years old, which is mind-boggling,” said his mother. “He has completely taken over our house. We are blessed for where he’s at in this journey, and I honestly believe it’s because of the start that he had.” 

Since its inception in 2003, the Associate Board has raised more than $1 million to support the ISCU and the Department of Pediatrics. The Associate Board of NorthShore is a fundraising organization of young professionals providing members with philanthropic, educational and service programs benefiting NorthShore and the community.

To learn more about joining the Associate Board or its activities throughout the year, call 224.364.7275, email associateboard@northshore.org or visit foundation.northshore.org/associate-board.

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