Lila's Legacy of Love
September 2022 | Lila Elizabeth Stepter was born on January 17, 2011, 15 weeks premature. Just hours after her birth, Lila was transported from a local hospital to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cook Children's Medical Center.
Back then, we didn't have an all-private-room NICU, so Lila's parents, Rebecca and Scott, could only see their daughter during visiting hours. Spending the night with their newborn was not possible then, like it is now.
On February 1, 2011, a winter storm covered the roads of North Texas in sheets of ice. The next day, our NICU staff called the Stepters, asking them to come to the medical center, to Lila, as quickly as they could.
Lila fought for 16 days, and on February 2, died in the arms of one of her loving nurses as the Stepters navigated the icy roads on their way to their daughter.
"The doctor called on the way to tell us she had just passed away and that she was with Ginger when she died," recalled Scott. "It was a blessing that it was Ginger because we knew her and she was already special to us; she had been with her since day one. As soon as we walked through the door, she said, 'I haven't left her. We waited for y'all. I was right here with her the whole time.'"
Rebecca and Scott were able to spend time with Lila, in a private room in the NICU. It was small and there was a couch there for them, but not much more. Lila's legacy would change that.
In 2021, in celebration of what would have been Lila's 10th birthday, Rebecca and Scott invited friends and family to honor Lila and help other families during their stay in the NICU.
"We were overwhelmed by the generosity of so many willing to give and donate to celebrate the life of our precious daughter," said Rebecca. "With the money that was so graciously donated, we were able to buy socks, mittens and blankets for the NICU babies. We were also able to donate money toward swings and items for the NICU palliative care room."
Lila's legacy is providing a place of comfort for families who have to say goodbye to their babies in our NICU. The money that was donated in her memory went to furnish and refresh the palliative care room, to make it feel like home.
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