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Central Pa couple donates 'Cuddle Cots' to local hospital for families who experience loss

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It's an unimaginable loss, the death of an unborn child.

A Lancaster County couple is talking about their story and making a difference with a donation that will help others during a devastating time.

Michelle and Mike McGovern, of Lancaster County, have two children, a 4 year old daughter, Violet and a son, Liam.

But, Liam is no longer with them, he was stillborn 6 years ago.

Michelle McGovern said, "It's very hard to send your child to the morgue and know they're there in the cold, in the dark, alone and you're so close but you can't have them with you."

Michelle had a severe infection and fever after Liam was born so doctors attended to her first.

By the time she was finally able to hold Liam she couldn't spend as much time with him as she would have liked.

She and Mike had to say hello and goodbye very quickly, because the body of an infant changes more rapidly after death than an adult's.

Michelle said, "After about 24 hours of being in the hospital, he was starting to change because they did not have a Cuddle Cot and we had to make the decision to let him go a little sooner than what we probably would have."

A 'Cuddle Cot' is a cooling system that attaches to a bassinet and keeps the body of the baby cool so parents can stay with the child longer.

The McGoverns discovered it just last year and knew immediately that they wanted to buy one for a local hospital.

Coincidentally the folks at the Women's Place at the Heart of Lancaster were also researching 'Cuddle Cots' and how to get one.

Women's Place CEO Deborah Willwerth says it will make a difference not only with families but the doctors and nurses who experience the loss right along with the families.

Willwerth said, "Before the advent of the Cuddle Cot, in order to be able to say hello and goodbye to an infant, the staff always felt pressured to move things forward, to move things along and to allow the parents the dignity for that time frame. The Cuddle Cot makes a huge amount of difference."

That is why the McGoverns are donating a 'Cuddle Cot' to the Women's Place on Oct. 22.

Mike McGovern said, "Having a Cuddle Cot at the hospital helps them provide the best care that they can for their patients. And it shows that they have an understanding of you know, of the heartbreak, that you're going through and that they're doing everything they can to give you the best possible care at the worst possible time of your life."

It wasn't an easy journey though, because the cost of a 'Cuddle Cot' can from from $3,000 to $6,000.

But through the S.O.B.B.S US Cuddle Cot Initiative, Michelle found funding and then an anonymous donor covered the rest of the expense. Making it possible for the McGoverns to provide the 'Cuddle Cot' to Women's Place sooner than the average year long wait.

"For me it's very healing to be able to help someone else and I truly feel this is my calling in life to continue to help people, I don't want anyone else to have to deal with this," Michelle said. "And also it's a way of continuing Liam's legacy and making his life more meaningful by touching other people."

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