HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The 17th annual Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa are days away. The events raise money for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. Money is used to buy life-saving equipment for the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.

When parents pass through the doors into the unit, there are a lot of emotions. “It’s a flood of memories every time you walk in this place,” Amy George told me, “I mean, good and bad.”

17 years ago, life took Amy and Chris George down the path. “It was a scary and it was a hard time for me personally,” Amy told me, “But what I do know is that I’m just so incredibly grateful for this unit, for the nurses, the physicians who took care of our girls. There’s really no way to say thanks, which I guess is why we started Melissa’s fund.”

Melissa George died shortly after birth. Her twin, Ann Catherine, survived. “I just remember seeing her,” Amy said, “She was so frail and so small and so sick. And then there was this medical apparatus covering her face and I had no idea what it was. And it was scary.”

Ann Catherine was hooked up to a ventilator. “I remember a nurse explaining, kinda going through for Chris and I what all these things were doing for her and that ventilator was just helping her breathe because she was 14 weeks old,” Amy said, “Her lungs were so underdeveloped.”

Dr. Lee Morris is the NICU Medical Director. He says when a baby is born early, “The lungs are the number one thing we have to focus on.” And that often involves a ventilator. “The lungs and the respiratory system are really the most significant,” he told me, “We all have to be able to breathe and get oxygen in to survive. And these babies’ lungs are just terribly underdeveloped. Lungs don’t even complete development until even past term.”

As the number of babies coming into the Regional NICU grows, so does the need for more ventilators. “To be able to take care of smaller and sicker babies here in Huntsville and not have to seek help from Birmingham or other places is extremely important to the community and this equipment helps with that,” Dr. Morris said.

Money from this year’s Swim for Melissa and Miracle Bash will help buy some new chairs so parents will be comfortable when they visit their little miracles. Melissa’s fund will also pay for several new vents giving them a fighting chance at life. “We cannot take care of the babies without this equipment,” Dr. Morris added.

“When they said we need respiratory equipment, I was so happy to provide that because I know that that piece of equipment helped keep my child alive,” Amy told me, “I know how important it is.”

For more information, click on the link for “Swim for Melissa” and “Miracle Bash.” Swim is Saturday, July 30th. Registration is closed. Miracle Bash is Friday, August 5th at Stovehouse. You can still buy tickets for a few days. To do that, click on the link above.