Idaho mom’s gift to local hospitals allows parents more time with deceased babies
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REXBURG — A Boise mom is on a mission to give parents the gift of time after the unfortunate event of losing a baby.
“I am a ‘loss mom,’ and I have triplets in heaven,” said Erica Willenbring. “It’s been a little over three years, so it’s taken me awhile to find a way I could give back.”
Willenbring is now giving back to Idaho hospitals. Through her charity, Little Joys Remembrance Foundation, Willenbring has gifted a CuddleCot to Madison Memorial Hospital.
The CuddleCot is designed to keep babies bodies cool, allowing families to have more time to say goodbye.
“A CuddleCot slows the physical changes of an infant after she or she has passed, which allows time for footprints, castings, photos and more memories to be made,” according to a Little Joys pamphlet.
“I think it’s something that unites loss moms. Having the CuddleCot, having the time — that’s something I think we can all agree we’ve yearned for, and that’s something that every family will have the option to have,” Willenbring said.
The CuddleCot is made up of multiple parts. Water is put into a small machine with tubes attached that run to a cooling pad inside a plastic bassinet. When the machine is turned on, a fan starts that cools the pad to 46 degrees.
There are 500 CuddleCots in hospitals nationwide. Madison Memorial Hospital is the sixth hospital in the state to receive a CuddleCot. Willenbring has a goal to gift one to each of the 40 hospitals throughout the state.
Registered nurse Jill Clawson, who directs the bereavement services at the hospital, said the hospital is honored to receive this much-needed donation.
“We’re so fortunate to live in this community and have these people and have all the mothers of losses that have reach out toward us and I think our bereavement program wouldn’t be what it is today without that,” Clawson said
At the CuddleCot presentation, Madison Memorial gave $1,000 to Willenbring for her charity.
“We just couldn’t help but to pay it forward,” Clawson said.
Each CuddleCot runs upwards of $3,000. It’s made by a company named Flexmort and is shipped from the U.K. The Little Joys Foundation works in conjunction with the U.S. CuddleCot Campaign in Florida to receive these machines.
“To see such a generous donation, I mean, I want to cry,” Willenbring said. “It’s huge,”
Willenbring also presented a CuddleCot to MountainView Hospital in Idaho Falls. A local family donated the funds to buy the kit. She said there is currently a campaign raising money to donate one to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
“Getting CuddleCots into the Idaho hospitals is really based on community support,” Willenbring said.