Poppy’s Story

After a healthy and uneventful pregnancy, Eliza gave birth to a daughter Frances, lovingly called “Poppy,” four days after her due date on June 19, 2019. Upon birth, it became apparent that Poppy had inhaled a severe amount of meconium and was not breathing.

Poppy was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, and for 24 hours, she fought to breathe, showing signs of improvement and then severe decline. Almost 30 hours after Poppy was born, it became clear that she was not going to live without some assistance. Eliza and her husband Spencer will never forget that 2 am hospital room visit. Courtney Juliano, MD, informed them about the life-or-death decision they had to make - whether or not to put Poppy on the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

In a final effort, Poppy was hooked up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which pumped and supplied oxygen to her blood, allowing her heart and lungs to rest. For four long days, Eliza and her family watched and hoped that Poppy could survive once taken off support. With the expertise of the doctors at Mount Sinai, and prayers and support from loved ones, Poppy was successfully taken off ECMO. She suffered no lasting damage, and after 14 days in the NICU, Poppy came home.

Eliza cannot say enough about the staff at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. “After our time there, we can honestly say we missed them—they became a family to us. We are forever grateful to Scarlett McKinsey, MD, and Dr. Juliano—the ones first on the scene, there every step of the way, and finally there to say Poppy was discharged. We had many hard conversations with these women, and we couldn’t have been in better hands.”

Eliza is also grateful for the “calm demeanor and focus” of Veniamin Ratner, MD, “as he guided us through the unbelievably long days of Poppy being hooked up to ECMO.” In addition, “Nurse Shanna’s outstanding attitude and round-the-clock availability to answer questions eased our nerves.”

Eliza says one of the worst moments is when you come home without your baby. However, the staff at Mount Sinai calmed her fears. “I remember getting home, and it dawned on me, our Frances had never heard her name before, as while pregnant we always called her Poppy, our little poppyseed. Frantically, I called the nurses and told them to call her Poppy, the only name she had ever known. I still cry when I think about the next morning when we walked in—a big bright drawing of a poppy flower was taped on her isolate—from that day forward, she would always be our Poppy.”