Christi and David Hancock lovingly celebrated each day of their daughter Ella’s life because they knew it could also be her last.
Diagnosed in utero with a chromosomal disorder, baby Ella wasn’t expected to survive her birth, much less come home from the hospital. However, Ella was a fighter and was born five weeks early on May 31, 2008. Her parents were ecstatic.
“Our biggest wish,” said Christi, “was that she would make it to birth, so we could just have a few minutes to tell her how much we love her.” Christi’s wish was fulfilled, and one day later, she and David brought their baby daughter home. Because the family was unsure if Ella would survive, no preparations had been made and the couple quickly found themselves overwhelmed. It was then that the Hancocks became part of the Noah’s Children family.
Noah’s Children got its start in 1997 when Bob Archuleta, M.D., attended a school auction and purchased a collage featuring Noah and the animals for his busy pediatric office. The doctor was so impressed with the children’s artwork That he suggested prints be made and sold in the community. One student artist told him money raised should go to help sick children; another suggested that the proceeds should help dying children.
Archuleta promised the children he would do just that, and six months later Noah’s Children was born.
Today, Noah’s Children continues to serve a critical need as the first and only pediatric hospice and palliative care program in Central Virginia and one of the first in the United States. Providing comprehensive, compassionate care that addresses the entire family’s physical, emotional, social, spiritual and practical needs, Noah’s Children allows families to focus on making sure their child’s remaining time is as rich and meaningful as possible.
“Caring for a child with a lifethreatening illness means not just adding days to life, but adding life to that child’s day,” says Archuleta, founder and medical director of Noah’s Children.
Because decisions at the end of life are fraught with confusion, uncertainty, and deep emotions, comprehensive and compassionate services during this time provide enormous benefits for both the Child and family members.
“Our experience with Ella was enhanced by Noah’s Children,” Christi added. “They gave us confidence, lowered the stress, provided emotional and medical support, and helped us understand the process. Noah’s Children made our lives easier so we could just focus on Ella.” Ella passed away in her parents’ arms on September 3, 2008.
Noah’s Children’s mission is to provide services to children with life-threatening illness and their families, in concert with all area health care systems, and regardless of a family’s ability to pay.