Casey Bobrick decided to do something very special for her birthday last year: She had people give donations to Renown instead of gifts to her. It’s all to thank the hospital team for being so thorough with her care during her first hours of life.
While most 9-year-olds are asking for dolls, remote-control cars or electronic toys for their birthdays, Casey Bobrick had a very different request: She wanted people to give to others instead of to herself.
This request may seem out of the ordinary for someone so young, especially when that’s an age when birthdays still hold a lot of magic and excitement. But Casey and her family had other plans – and it’s all due to her first weeks on Earth.
Casey and her mom, Bonnie Bobrick, talked recently about Casey’s time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where the pair spent lots of time during Casey’s first few weeks of life. As it turns out, those difficult days led to Casey’s decision to ask family and friends to raise money for the NICU at Renown Regional instead of give presents for her birthday late last year. It all ended with a $1,500 NICU donation and what ended up as a fun return to the unit to present the check.
15 Days in the NICU
But let’s back up: A little more than nine years ago, Casey — who is now a third grader at Yerington Elementary School — was born to Bonnie, who is a kindergarten teacher in Yerington. Bonnie explains that Casey’s birth was complicated: It was a Cesarean section two weeks early, but after she was born, Casey had breathing problems.
“She was full-term, but her lungs were not developed, so they walked Casey and her dad, Mike, right through the regular nursery and straight to NICU,” Bonnie recalls.
During her 15-day stay in the NICU, it was discovered that Casey had a hole in her lung. She was first put on a respirator and then needed a chest tube to drain fluid from the lung hole. Bonnie describes her daughter’s early days in the NICU as “…a process. She had a feeding tube at first and then had to learn how to eat again.”
And then after Casey was released, the family traveled back to Reno monthly for two years of shots to prevent RSV, a respiratory condition for which Casey was at risk.
Donations for ‘The Babies’
The good news is that Casey is doing remarkably well. She does have asthma and breathing issues during the winter, but in general she is in good health. And this is not something Casey and her parents take for granted.
“My birthday was in a couple of weeks, so I went into the laundry room with Mom and said I wanted to donate money,” Casey recalls. “I wanted to do that instead of get presents. I wanted to have money for the babies that are having problems at Renown.”
Casey said she asked her family members, friends at school and others invited to her birthday party to give money. “And, my mom put me on Facebook,” Casey adds.
‘The Best Thing Ever’
Late last year, Casey went to NICU to donate the $1,500 check to employees and members of Renown Health Foundation. She was joined by Bonnie and Mike, as well as her sister, Carlie, age 11.
Casey described her visit as “the best thing ever.”
“It was actually pretty fun, because we went up to the babies and saw this one baby that was so tiny,” Casey remembers. “It was interesting to me.”
Casey said that everyone in the NICU was really nice and happy to receive her donation, including, as she describes, “the guy that was like the new principal there.” That is Larry Duncan, who had just moved to Reno to be the Vice President and Administrator for Renown Children’s Hospital.
For Bonnie, it was also a good experience. “It was the first time I had been back in the actual NICU, and I was really super emotional,” she says. “Then once we started looking around, it was neat to be able to show Casey everything. And the nurses were great. They really showed us everything.”