A Big Donation for Little Patients

October 7, 2020

Not many people are able to turn a personal tragedy into a positive initiative.

Amy Straky, supervisor, Regional Meter Reading, The Illuminating Company (CEI), was able to do just that.

In July 2017, Amy and her husband, Matt, were expecting their first child. A son, Nolan James, was born with complications on July 8.

“We were able to spend three short days with him before he passed away on July 11,” said Amy, who works out of the Strongsville Service Center. “It has been very difficult for us and our family. And as time went on, we wanted to find a way to honor Nolan’s memory. We wanted to spread awareness about infant loss and try to help others who might be on the same journey.”

As a result, Amy and her family created the “Never Forget Nolan James” fundraiser to honor Nolan and other babies who were gone too soon.

The reverse raffle event was a 2019 Halloween party with the hopes of raising $10,000. The proceeds would benefit the Cleveland Clinic Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“We had an amazing group of more than 300 people who came to support us. And we raised more than $30,000, which allowed us to purchase a special piece of equipment for the NICU,” said Amy.

The unit, known as a Pea Pod, is a medical device designed to measure the body composition of premature infants. The baby is placed in a heated chamber that looks like a small MRI machine for approximately three minutes. Using a special air displacement method, the machine senses change in pressure and can determine the percentage of body weight that is fat and the percentage that is lean. With this information, health care workers can then personalize the baby’s nutritional supplements to help with appropriate weight gain. The process is then repeated until the infant is ready to be discharged from the hospital. This new technology is helping premature babies grow faster – and sending them home sooner.

The Pea Pod was donated to the NICU at Cleveland Clinic and displays a plaque honoring Nolan. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there wasn’t a formal presentation as planned. However, the Pea Pod is in use and making a difference in the lives of many premature babies.

“The presentation ceremony would have been nice, but it wasn’t essential,” said Amy. What’s important is the fact that we were able to raise enough money to provide this much-needed equipment for Cleveland Clinic’s NICU. And, that it honors our Nolan James.”

And Amy and Matt have more good news to share.

“We’re expecting a little boy in February!” she said.