Nowhere Better | Charlie, San Carlos
By Theresa Johnston
When Adrianne Wonnacott of San Carlos sat down recently to update her will, she couldn’t help thinking back to the dark winter and spring of 2006-07.
Adrianne was barely six months pregnant with her first child when her amniotic sac ruptured prematurely, leaving little fluid to support her baby. For the first two weeks of his life, her son, Charlie, clung to life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Packard Children’s Hospital. Connected to a breathing ventilator, he also received blood transfusions and UV treatment for jaundice. At two months he developed retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disorder that tends to strike the smallest of preemies. At five months he developed hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid inside his skull.
In short, it was a harrowing time. Yet Adrianne was so grateful for the care her tiny son received—and so impressed by the attention given to all the babies in the NICU, of all backgrounds and means—that she decided to leave a portion of her future estate to Packard Children’s Hospital. To do so, she worked closely with her attorney, Judy Gordon.
“It was just something I wanted to do,” Adrianne explains. “Packard really takes care of all of its patients. They take in everyone across the board, whether families can afford to pay or not, and they treat everyone equally. That was very apparent to me in the NICU, and it really meant a lot.”
Adrianne’s husband, Bruce, echoes her sentiments. “There were a hundred things for me to worry about when Charlie was born. But the question, ‘Should I try to get my son treated somewhere better?’ was never something I had to worry about. Knowing that we already were at one of the best children’s hospitals in the country took a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Today, Charlie is a high-energy preschooler who loves anything to do with trucks, trains, cars, and planes. His breathing scares and reflux issues are a thing of the past. Glasses help him to see better, and physical therapy has made him surer on his feet. “We expect that he’ll face ongoing challenges,” his mother reports, “but today he’s making steady progress.” Add to that the fact that there’s a new baby brother in the house, and the future for the Wonnacott family seems bright.