In 2016, Thangadurai and his wife, Shini, then pregnant with their first child, moved to Seattle. Shortly after arriving in the community – still in a hotel and looking for a place to call home – Shini started to feel “not right” and Thangadurai took her to the EvergreenHealth Emergency Department. Once there, a high blood pressure reading led to her being admitted to the hospital and rushed to the Intensive Care Unit where she would be treated for preeclampsia.

“I was scared. She had been fine up until that week. Just the previous week, before we travelled, her physicians assured us that her and the baby were healthy. And then all of a sudden, my wife is being admitted to the ICU and I had no one to turn to for help. We had just moved to the city with no friends or family in the area.”

After bringing in prenatal specialists to monitor mom and baby for about a week, her worsening and unusual health condition led to a midnight emergency c-section procedure. At just 31 weeks, she delivered a tiny baby boy – Rithul. But after delivery, her condition faltered again and she was rushed back to the Intensive Care Unit, while Rithul, needing immediate treatment as well, was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“It’s just after midnight and I’m asked: ‘do you want to go with your wife or your baby?’. I can’t be by both of their sides at once. One of the doctors was kind enough to reassure me, letting me know my wife would be alright, and that I could come to the NICU to see where my son would sleep and be fed. He cried as they put him on oxygen and feeding tubes – and all I could do was watch him and pray until he calmed.”

Shini stayed in the ICU for days, unable to visit her son due to her own critical condition. In addition to their 24/7 care, nurses arranged for donor milk for nourishment, thoughtfully explained treatments in step-by-step detail, and even helped by having nurses in the NICU take photos of baby and send them to nurses in the ICU so they could be shown to mom.

“My wife and I just really want to thank the doctors, nurses and everyone working at the hospital. Everyone was so kind and took such great care of us. How we felt around the nurses and doctors was like how we feel around family – how you feel when your child is with their grandparents or someone like that – they stepped in and were there for our child when we couldn’t be. Rithul started Kindergarten this year – he’s this healthy, talkative boy who is quick to make friends – and so we wanted to say thank you to those at EvergreenHealth who cared for our family when we needed it most.”

This holiday season, we invite you to invest in our community health system by supporting our healthcare team and giving back to the areas of healthcare – like, women’s and children’s services – that made a difference in your family’s health.