Kangaroo cuddles now possible thanks to some very generous families

Late last year, the staff and patients at the Mercy Hospital for Women Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (MHW NICU) received two new recliner chairs, perfect for mothers and babies, just in time for Christmas.

The recliners were donated to the NICU by two very generous families — the Hunters and Bonanzingas – both of which have a deep connection to the MHW NICU and maternity services.

In 2017, Shannon and Brett Hunter’s twins, Jack and Ally, were born premature at 26 weeks at Box Hill Hospital. The twins were then transferred to the MHW NICU.

Ally Jean Hunter

“Jack was born at 780g and Ally 689g. Ally passed away from NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis) on day 55, the infection came on very fast and she passed away in my arms two hours later. Jack came home on oxygen on day 118,” Shannon says.

“The staff were amazing right through our journey, the most beautiful people anybody could meet, they supported us so well especially after Ally passed away, the care we were given that night by the staff was unbelievable.

I wanted to do something to say thanks. This donation was a way we could help out, as recliners were always hard to get when you wanted to do kangaroo care.

In 2019 Vanessa and Peter Bonanzinga learnt they were having monochorionic identical twins — they were sharing the one placenta.

“At our 20-week scan the boys were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. This meant they were not sharing the placenta evenly. For the safety of the twins and myself, they needed to be delivered via emergency caesarean,” Vanessa says.

Marc and Adam were born on 25 September 2019 at 24 weeks. They were born weighing 672g and 679g and spent four months in hospital before finally coming home.

“From the moment Marc and Adam were born, I felt they were in the best place. At every bedside visit we were informed, we were included, we were advised, we were kept up to date,” Vanessa says.

“The hardest part of each day was going home without the twins. But the silver lining was knowing we were leaving them in great hands. The twins were receiving excellent round-the-clock care and that provided us with comfort during such a difficult time”.

Bonanzinga family

Vanessa and her family wanted a way to say thank you and they “didn’t think a box of chocolates was quite going to cut it,” she says.

“I also wanted to give hope. If someone reads the plaque on the back of the recliner and asks about Marc and Adam, my wish is that hearing their story gives them hope that they too, will take their baby or babies home,” Vanessa says.

Mercy Hospital for Women Neonatal Services Equipment Nurse Meg Salmetti shared the team’s joy in receiving these generous donation:

We would like to say how grateful we are to have received such kind and generous donations. The recliners are being used multiple times each day by parents and their babies for special bonding kangaroo cuddles.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making our nursery a little more comfortable!

Shannon’s gratitude also extends beyond the NICU: “We went through Mercy Perinatal to have our beautiful rainbow baby, Douglas. The care they took was amazing, they made sure all our worries were looked after. We can not thank the Mercy enough.”

Vanessa has hopes that donations like hers will motivate others to give back as well. “Perhaps our donation may motivate others to pay it forward. I often think about mums who are currently in the midst of their NICU journey and hope they have a happy ending just like we did.”

If you would like to support neonatal services at Mercy Health you can donate online.

Other ways to support us

We have partnered with Silkies Rose Farm who are generously donating a portion of all sales of their Catherine McAuley potted rose to support Mercy Health. The plants will be sold from November at $62 each. If you would like to secure a plant for November please email or call us on the following details: foundation@mercy.com.au | 03 8416 7766

Last reviewed June 10, 2022.