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Inspired Giving: The McMahon Family Story

Deanna and three-week-old Jacob
Deanna holds son Jacob at three weeks old.

In January 2005, baby Jacob was born 11 weeks early to Deanna and Russell McMahon when Deanna suffered from complications caused by severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Deanna was hospitalized for five days before the perinatologists decided her body would not make it much further. Being their first pregnancy, the McMahons were not expecting Jacobs’s arrival for almost three more months.

Their first chance to bond with Jacob was very important as Deanna was not awake during his delivery nor was she able to bond with him for two days following surgery. Two particular nurses stand out for the McMahon’s during this terrifying time. Neonatal nurse practitioner Kristen Sohn, who helped the McMahon family in Sharp Mary Birch’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Toni Hicks, RN, who aided Deanna in the Perinatal Special Care Unit.

The McMahons said Jacob made remarkable development in the NICU under outstanding care given be these nurses and the entire team at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. Each day he progressed and after six weeks, Jacob was discharged ahead of his due date. As the McMahons headed out the lobby door and buckled their five-pound infant into his car seat, they faced fear again, but their nurse reassured them that there would be no more tubes, wires or monitors — Jacob was going home and going home strong.

Russell and Deanna with two-year-old Jacob
Russell, Deanna and two-year-old Jacob.

Jacob now has amazing strength and intelligence and has no complications from his premature birth. The McMahons thank God that they had the incredible nursing staff and doctors at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital who care for the many tiny premature babies born there, as well as their recovering moms and dads.

In gratitude, Deanna and Russell decided to make a special gift to Sharp Mary Birch's NICU, in addition to paying special tribute to nurses Sohn and Hicks by honoring them as Guardian Angels.

“We felt as if we were the only family in their care,” said Deanna. “We were never rushed or made to feel inadequate. We were trained with confidence to care for our baby. Now if only there was someone to train us for the ‘terrible twos!”

Learn more about how you can honor a caregiver through the Guardian Angel Program, giving opportunities at Sharp Mary Birch and other ways to give.