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'Ryan's Cot' to give grieving parents more time to say goodbye

The Sault Area Hospital averages five to eight stillbirths per year
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20160126 Angela Caputo Ryan's Cot KA
Breakfast Pig owner Angela Caputo, seen today in her restaurant on Bruce Street. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

A fundraising effort spearheaded by a local restaurant seeks to give grieving parents of stillborn babies a precious gift — more time to say goodbye.

Angela Caputo, owner of The Breakfast Pig, said she had been looking to take on a charitable project to give back to the community.

A family member, who gave birth to a stillborn son named Ryan, made Caputo aware of a device called a ‘Cuddle Cot.’

“I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give back to our hospital and to our community,” said Caputo.

The Cuddle Cot features a cooling pad, which allows grieving parents more time to spend with their stillborn baby.

“It helps with the grieving process. On a normal scale, the babies are generally taken within a few hours. With this piece of equipment, it gives you extra hours,” said Caputo.

In some cases, parents of stillborn babies have spent up to three days with their child using the Cuddle Cot.

“Three days may not be for everyone, but it gives you time to make final resting plans and family members time to come and see your baby — however you want to deal with the grief,” said Caputo.

Logan Costa — a spokesperson for the Sault Area Hospital Foundation —  said the Cuddle Cot will be used in labour and delivery for stillbirths and babies who die shortly after birth.

"Having this item available locally will benefit the families in this very difficult time. On behalf of the community, we would like to thank Angela and her group for this donation," said Costa.

He said donated items — such as wheelchairs and the Cuddle Cot — must be approved by the foundation and department prior to donation.

Last week, registered nurse Kierston Miron spoke at an information session for Bill 141: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, Research and Care Act.

Miron said labour and delivery is one of the happiest places to work at Sault Area Hospital.

“However when things go wrong, Maternity is the hardest place to be. When an adult passes away a family can take comfort from memories of a life together. Families who experience an infant loss are denied those moments. Losing a parent is losing your past but losing a child is losing your future,” said Miron during the event.

She said the staff at labour and delivery provide photos of the babies on memory cards they purchase with their own money, or with money donated by retirees. 

According to Miron, over the last seven years, the hospital is averaging five to eight stillbirths per year.

“Our birth rate has averaged at 915 births over the same time period. Statistically our losses are a small percentage of the births that we do in a year but each one is a tragedy for the families involved,” said Miron.

Bill 141 — which passed in Queen’s Park and received Royal Ascent in December — aims to provide money for research initiatives and programs to assist mothers and families who experience pregnancy loss or infant death and to find ways to reduce risk in the future.

It also includes provisions to provide counselling for families and training for hospital staff.

“Staff need to know how to properly support women who experience loss at any part of their pregnancy. Staff need to understand how the care the mother receives at the hospital is critical in helping her and her family come to terms with the loss. Physicians and nurses need tools to assist them in supporting these families – correct ways to approach and speak to the mothers and their loved ones,” said Miron.

The Breakfast Pig — along with additional contributions from their staff, Exit Realty Lake Superior, Capco Construction, PAC Construction Group, LTD., Superior Chrysler Dodge Jeep and private other donors — collected the approximately $4000 to purchase the Cuddle Cot, including shipping and extended warranty.

Their goal was reached yesterday and Caputo hopes the Cuddle Cot will be delivered to the hospital within the next four to six weeks.

It will be named Ryan’s Cot, named in remembrance of the son of her family member — who wasn’t given a chance at life.