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High Risk Hope Expands to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

High Risk Hope LogoAs we recognize World Prematurity Day (November 17), we want to put the spotlight on High Risk Hope, an organization in the Tampa Bay community that is moving mountains to help preemies and their families. It was created in 2011 by Tampa mom of two, Heather Barrow, with the mission to provide support, encouragement, and resources to women and families experiencing high risk pregnancy resulting in hospital bed rest, potential premature birth, and neonate intensive care after delivery.

High Risk Hope Tampa BayHigh Risk Hope is now expanding to help even more families, recently adding Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg to its list of hospitals it serves. We asked her to share more about High Risk Hope and how you can help her mission to support families experiencing high risk pregnancy.

High Risk Hope Tampa Bay 1) What inspired you to create High Risk Hope?

When I was pregnant with my second child in 2009, my son Hill, my water broke 24 weeks into my pregnancy. I was admitted to the hospital for the delivery of a very sick baby boy, learning Hill would have only a 50% percent chance of survival and would certainly face some type of permanent disability if born at 24 weeks. Preterm premature rupture of membranes at 24 weeks is rare, and Hill’s life was at risk as long as my pregnancy continued. My doctors would allow me to remain pregnant on complete hospital bed rest as long as neither Hill or I showed signs of distress until 34 weeks when the risk of infection outweighed the risk of complications caused by premature birth.

High Risk Hope Tampa BayMy husband Bennett and I instantly transitioned from elation about my pregnancy to being in a constant state of fear, anxiety, and disbelief. I was torn between wanting to remain pregnant as long as possible to help Hill enter this world with a fighting chance and wanting to deliver because he could die at any moment before his birth. With our two-year-old daughter Claire at home, it was impossible for us to be with both children so we focused our time and energy on the child that needed us the most. That is when our village stepped in to help. Thanks to an excellent medical team, prayers, the strong support of loved ones, and a positive outlook, I remained pregnant for 59 days on complete hospital bed rest at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. To the surprise of an operating room full of nurses, obstetricians, and neonatologists, Hill was born kicking and screaming at 32 weeks by an emergency C-section. Despite being born two months premature, and having no amniotic fluid for two months in utero, Hill needed no breathing support during his stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). He is now a beautiful, happy, healthy and extremely smart 7-year-old. I just had his parent teacher conference on Monday and Hill is one of the top readers and spellers in his class!

It is hard to imagine, or to adequately convey, how difficult and stressful this type of ordeal can be on a mother-to-be and her family. While in the hospital, I received no support from a local or national nonprofit. This was the norm for other hospital patients, most of whom also did not have a strong personal support system like our family did. High Risk Hope (HRH) was born in 2011 when our family decided to encourage others facing similar terrifying circumstances by bridging the gap between their worst fears of losing a child and the hope of leaving the hospital with a healthy baby.

High Risk Hope Tampa Bay2) What do you all do for families?

High Risk Hope provides support and encouragement to pregnant women on hospital bed rest and the families of premature babies in the NICU. Since 2011 HRH volunteers have delivered more than 5,000 HRH care packages, Bed Rest Baskets, and NICU Napsacks, to families admitted to the hospitals we serve. The care packages have everything a family needs to survive their hospital stay, including personal hygiene items, a soft blanket, a large tumbler, a journal, and inspirational items like our HRH Baby Calendar, spotlighting healthy and adorable HRH babies who have made the transition from hospital to home. While the care packages are an incredible gift, HRH also delivers hope to families that they will leave the hospital with a healthy baby.

High Risk Hope Tampa Bay at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital3) Congratulations on adding Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital! How can families there request help?

Thank you, we are thrilled to begin serving premature infants and their families in Pinellas County! The great news is that eligible families admitted to the hospitals we serve do not need to request HRH’s help, they will automatically receive it. If your family delivers a premature baby at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, your NICU team will ensure you receive a NICU Napsack and support from High Risk Hope.

High Risk Hope Tampa Bay4) How can the community help support High Risk Hope?

It takes a village to raise a preemie and HRH has an incredible one. We rely on the continued generosity of this community to serve families in crisis, both through financial contributions and donations of their time. Every $25 donated will help HRH reach one family in the NICU, so every dollar counts. For families with young children, they are never too small to make a big difference for premature babies in our community. We encourage you to take a look at our holiday wish list work with your children to collect and donate items that will be included in our December deliveries. Collecting Children’s books for our books for babies drive is always a favorite! For those of you with a few extra hours to spare, HRH always needs volunteers and we have several volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Please email info@highriskope for more information.High Risk Hope Volunteer Opportunities



Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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