By Cassidy Klein
San Carlos resident Jill Pankow knows the pain of not being with a baby right after birth. Pankow’s daughter, Nicole, was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rady’s Children’s Hospital after she was born in 1991. Pankow and her husband did not know what was going on with her for two days and could not see her.
“Being away from your child immediately, it’s very difficult,” Pankow said.
Pankow started Angel’s Above Foundation with her husband and two grown children last year with the intent to “help others not go through that pain.” Angel’s Above partners with Rady’s to supply their NICU with “Nicview” cameras, which allow families to view their baby in the NICU from anywhere in the world in real time, 24/7.
So far, Angel’s Above has raised $10,000, which will provide Rady’s with three Nicview cameras. There are currently 60 beds in the NICU, and Angel’s Above is committed to providing each one with a camera.
Pankow said she chose to partner with Rady’s because of their care for Nicole, who was born with a hypo-plastic left heart and died two days after she was born.
“[The people at Rady’s] worked tirelessly trying to save her,” Pankow said. “One thing they were able to do is let us say goodbye, and that means more to me than so much. It’s because of the care that they took, the love they have for each individual child, each nurse, everybody that goes in there. They really treat these babies as if they were their own.”
Rady’s representative Kourtney King said the hospital cannot make any public statements about the partnership with Angel’s Above at this time because they are a generous donor and recent partner.
Angel’s Above is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in San Carlos. They plan to host events throughout year to raise funds for more cameras, including a golf tournament in August. Pankow and her family are tightly knit within the San Carlos community and are grateful for the support people have shown so far.
“The San Carlos area means the world to me, this is my town,” Pankow said. “The people who live across from us are the first people who saw me when my parents came back from the hospital with me as a baby. [The support] is definitely amazing, we are so grateful.”
The logo for Angel’s Above is an elephant, which was chosen because Nicole’s room was decorated with elephants. Pankow hopes to expand their reach to more hospitals throughout the nation and continue to raise money to help families with newborns.
Everyone can make a difference, Pankow said, even in the midst of suffering. That is ultimately what Angel’s Above is about.
“I hope one day to see my daughter again, and I want her to know that mom and dad, we did it right,” Pankow said. “And so far it’s worked out beautifully. We are more than honored with the amount of trust and love people have put in us.”
For more information or to donate, visit angelsabovefoundation.org.
— Cassidy Klein is a San Diego-based freelance writer.