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At 28 weeks into her pregnancy Chrissy was diagnosed with Preeclampsia. A disorder which includes high blood pressure and protein in your urine due to the kidneys not functioning properly. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. So after being rushed from Greensburg to Magee Women Hospital in Pittsburgh it was concluded that both mom and baby had the best chance of survival if the baby was delivered via emergency C-Section. Emma Marie Keller was born on August 22, 2007 weighing in at 1lb 6oz and 11.5 inches long.
Emma did really well eating and growing for the first few weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Magee. However, she developed an infection in her intestines which required the first of several transfers between Magee and Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. The next couple of months were a roller coaster, physically for her and emotionally for us. We would leave the hospital at midnight and she was doing great only to call and check in after our hour drive home to find out that she wasn’t doing well.
Chrissy ended up having to leave her job and eventually stayed at the hospital to be with Emma and to be able to meet with her team of doctors and organize her care. However, Ryan had to continue working, unfortunately, the bills do not stop coming in at home even if you have a sick baby in the NICU an hour away. He never missed a night of visiting and loving on his baby girl. There were nights that I think Emma would hear his cowboy boots coming down the hall and into the room and would instantly perk up.
On January 17, 2008 Emma got to come home for the first time. We had her at home with us for 8 days. On January 25th she was running a fever and we took her back to Children’s. On January 28th Emma went in for surgery to remove a hemangioma. She passed away during this surgery, but her story doesn't end there.
Through their desire to keep Emma's memory alive, Ryan and Chrissy wanted to find a way to give back to all of their family, friends and their community for all the support that they were given during the 5 months that Emma was in the hospital. It started with helping friends that they had met at a monthly support group meeting deliver hats and blankets to the NICU and planning a walk on the weekend of Emma's first birthday to raise awareness for Preeclampsia. It has become what is now The Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation and it's various programs and the Keller's hope that with the foundation becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit in April of 2016 that it will continue to grow and offer support to many more families in the future.
The Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation