It was December, 26, 2019, Boxing Day, when Lincoln ‘Little Fighter’ Santano made an unexpected, early entry into the world at Kelowna General Hospital. He was a long way from home.
His mother, Natalie, had been experiencing premature labour and was quickly air-ambulanced to KGH from their hometown in Creston, B.C. so Lincoln could receive the specialized care he needed. He was born nine weeks early, and would remain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at KGH for 44 days.
Natalie’s husband, Kitt, was present for Lincoln’s birth, but had to return home to Creston just three days later. As you can imagine, the challenges that pre-term babies and their families face are significant. However, when there are already five little ones at home, and home is over 400kms away, the hardship is penetrating.
Lincoln and Natalie
“I was emotionally overwhelmed,” explains Natalie. “I needed to be with Lincoln. And my other children needed me too. My husband had to work and was carrying all of the responsibilities at home. I was worried about Lincoln and I missed my family.”
Two days after Lincoln was born, Natalie was discharged from the hospital. Natalie knew that Lincoln had a long road ahead of him in the NICU before he would be strong enough to travel home. Exhausted and scared, she now carried the added burden of finding accommodation for the duration of his stay.
Everything changed when Natalie found JoeAnna’s House.
At JoeAnna’s House, Natalie found a home-away-from-home; a warm, inviting place to rest and relax within steps of Lincoln’s bedside; a place to be in community with others who were navigating a similar, difficult path.
Natalie describes her first thoughts of seeing JoeAnna’s House, “The atmosphere was incredible, so peaceful and calming and I can’t say enough about the staff and volunteers. For 38 days JoeAnna’s House became my home, and the people in it became my family and friends.”
Because of JoeAnna’s House, Natalie was able to focus on bonding with Lincoln and instead of worrying about where she was going to sleep at night and the financial burden of being so far away from home for more than a month.
When asked what she would have done without JoeAnna’s House, Natalie responded “I honestly don’t even want to think about how different my experience would have been without JoeAnna’s House. Being able to have JoeAnna’s House so close to the hospital, allowed me to spend so much more precious time with Lincoln, and to me that time was priceless.”
After spending the first 40 days of his life in the NICU, “Little Fighter” Lincoln Santano was released from KGH on February 3, 2020 and traveled home to Creston with his parents to meet his 5 brothers and sisters.
To those who have donated to make JoeAnna’s House a reality and keep it operating, Natalie shares,
“I hope you know the profound impact your generosity has had on my family. By giving to JoeAnna’s House you have brought such happiness and peace into peoples’ lives when they truly need it the most. It’s a gift that cannot be measured. I will never forget how blessed I felt being a guest at JoeAnna’s House.”
You can help ensure families like the Santano’s have a place to stay when they need it most. Donate Now.