Happy birthday, Lyla Jane! A special celebration at South Shore Hospital

The maternity ward at South Shore Hospital gets together to celebrate the 10th birthday of Lyla Jane, who was born at the hospital in 2010.
Kim Dever, MD (far left), and the team in the Birthing Unit gather to celebrate Lyla Jane's 10th birthday on April 10, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone. The world around us is a very different place than it was just a few months ago, and it’s been difficult to find joy amongst all of the chaos.

But something wonderful has emerged from these trying times, something beautiful and heartwarming that’s seemingly more contagious than the virus itself: a communal sense of gratitude.

And it’s not just for health care workers and first responders. As a society, we’re realizing how grateful we are for teachers, postal workers, grocery store employees, pizza delivery people, and all of the essential workers out there risking their lives just to keep us going.

This sense of community and gratitude has shown itself in many ways at South Shore Health. From lawn signs and chalk drawings to food and PPE donations, the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, to say the least.

But one recent story stands out from them all.

It’s the story of a very special young lady, her family, and the SSH colleagues who made a huge impact on their lives.

The story began on an otherwise COVID-centric evening when Katie Daly, Clinical Liaison for the South Shore Health Foundation who is currently helping to coordinate food donations, received a call from Greensboro, North Carolina.

On the other end of the line was a gentleman named Tim Mann who had an interesting request...one that turned into an even more interesting story.

It turned out that Mann’s request wasn’t at all related to the pandemic. Instead, he and his wife Sandy were looking for a way to show their gratitude for something that happened at South Shore Hospital a decade earlier.

They wanted to celebrate the tenth birthday of their remarkable niece, Lyla Jane Dolly, who was born with Down syndrome at South Shore Hospital on April 10, 2010.

Lyla is now healthy and happy, living her life to its fullest while dancing and golfing with her mom, Jessica, in Lewiston, NY. And while her home is now closer to Niagara Falls than Nantasket Beach, the South Shore will always will always hold a bright spot in the family’s heart thanks to the care team at South Shore Hospital.

“That’s where it all began,” said Mann. “South Shore Hospital is such a special place to us and we wanted to do something to show our gratitude for all they did ten years ago."

"The initial idea was to send ten pizzas to the Birthing Unit as a way to say ‘thank you’ for bringing such a ray of sunshine into the world," Mann continued. "But when I connected with Katie, the whole thing took on a life of its own."

Happy birthday, Lyla!

Instead of simply scheduling the pizza delivery, Katie decided it would be fun to plan a little virtual party for Lyla, complete with party favors, pictures of Lyla, and decorations. She then connected Tim with Capone’s Pizza in Weymouth, who liked the idea so much that they threw in four additional pizzas, free of charge.

After that, Katie contacted Kim Dever, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs at South Shore Health. Dr. Dever not only remembered Lyla and Jessica from their time in the hospital, but also agreed to film a video message to commemorate Lyla’s very special milestone.

Dr. Dever then recalled that nurse Kathy Rondinelli was also a part of Lyla’s birth ten long years ago and recruited her to record a few words as well.

While enjoying their pizza, the unit sang “Happy Birthday” to Lyla Jane and held up pictures of the little star of the day. The whole party was captured on video and sent to the family, courtesy of Uncle Tim and Aunt Sandy.

“Pure joy – that’s what we felt on Friday,” said Mann. “Jessica and Lyla have watched the video over and over. Jessica remembers the sympathy, warmth, and compassion that Dr. Dever showed as she helped her through the beginning stages of raising a baby with Down syndrome ten years ago. It brings tears to her eyes.”

Not only did Dr. Dever help deliver baby Lyla back in 2010, but she also offered a shoulder for Jessica to cry on during a very difficult time. She even referred the family to the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children's Hospital, a place that is also near and dear to Dr. Dever’s heart.

“This contrast of emotions has been so stark compared to the chaotic gloom and doom we’ve facing over the past several weeks,” said Mann. “Your willingness and energy around our request has given us something positive to focus on over the last 24 hours. YOU helped us reset our focus back to JOY!”

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in negativity, especially when you’re in the midst of a pandemic. Sometimes it’s easy to miss the joy in life, especially when you’re faced with all of the obstacles life can bring.

But when you find something to be grateful for, and share that gratitude with others, the joy that it brings is something more contagious than any virus can ever be.

Watch South Shore Health's video message to Lyla Jane below.