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Style Magazine

Friends of Nicu

Nov 08, 2011 06:04AM ● By Style

Photo by Dante Fontana

For any new mother, there’s almost nothing more heart wrenching than having to leave the hospital before your newborn baby is able to.

When this scenario became a reality for Elanie and Tim  Purkis, they were inspired to start Friends of NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), a non-profit organization – offered at Mercy and Sutter hospitals – devoted to helping families spend more time with their babies in the NICU.

During a routine ultrasound in 2005, Elanie and Tim were thrilled to find out they were expecting twins, but Elanie’s first trimester was not as easy as her first pregnancy. With each doctor’s appointment came varying updates on the health of their twin boys. They were told their babies could be quite sick when they arrived, but the couple wasn’t sure what to expect.

On Friday, January 13, 2006, Elanie delivered Matthew and Ryan 10 weeks early. “We didn’t realize that at one point the staff didn’t think Ryan would make it. It was insane,” she says. “The first time I held Matthew, he was four days old. But in those four days [leading up], it was so confusing as to why I couldn’t hold him.” Matthew was in the NICU for six weeks while Ryan was there for 10.  

The support the couple received from doctors and nurses at the NICU moved the Purkis’ to help other families in need of support. “Moms have a difficult time when it comes to delivering a baby and then not being able to take their newborn home with them,” Elanie  explains. “So it’s such a relief when someone else understands.”

For many of these families, money is the one thing preventing them from visiting their babies. Elanie and Tim saw this need and found a way to help. Once parents apply for the program, they’ll receive gas gift cards and/or food vouchers to help ease the traveling costs almost immediately. “We get that it’s hard to ask for help,” Elanie explains. “But it’s especially important for mothers to bond with their babies, as it helps them grow stronger and healthier.”

Most of the organization’s annual funding comes from its November benefit, “Celebration of Miracles.” This year’s event will be held November 5 from 5 to 11 p.m. at Folsom’s Lake Natoma Inn. The night will include dinner, wine tasting, silent and live auctions and a DJ. Currently, Elanie’s goal is to raise enough money so that Friends of NICU can purchase a home near Mercy San Juan Medical Center to house multiple families. “It’s a big goal,” she says. But, it’s one that can be met with the help of our giving community.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the “Celebration of Miracles” event, visit