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Giving Life to a Commitment to Support Swedish

Brian and Susie Vowinkel were excited about the birth of their first child. Although Susie’s delivery date was several months away, they had already decided that she would deliver at Swedish and were making their plans.

But babies sometimes have minds of their own.

At 29 weeks, Susie was admitted to Swedish First Hill because their little girl was going to arrive much earlier than anticipated.

Many friends reassured her that she was in good hands at Swedish because it had the medical expertise they would need. But Susie was still anxious. She was a first-time mom delivering a baby 10 weeks early. She was fearful of what was to come.

Tiny Alexa — just a little over three pounds — arrived a week after Susie was admitted. As she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Susie couldn’t help but wonder whether she would be OK.

Alexa remained in the NICU and Infant Special Care Unit for 93 long days. It wasn’t the perfect beginning Brian and Susie anticipated, but the staff helped make it less frightening and more hopeful — an experience that gave life to their decision to support Swedish financially.

During those three months, Alexa slowly gained strength. Brian and Susie made multiple trips each day from home to the NICU, so they could feed and hold their daughter. They were fortunate in one respect — the hospital was just a 10-minute drive from their home. Susie often wondered how other new parents who lived farther away managed.

The Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns didn’t exist when Susie delivered in 2011, but the expertise and genuine compassion of the staff definitely did. Although the NICU was a scary place and she was in a pretty bad place emotionally, Brian and Susie were grateful that they were at Swedish — surrounded by doctors and nurses who were intent on caring for Alexa and supporting all three of them.

Those months also gave her the opportunity to think about her experience and the kinds of things that might make it a little more enjoyable. It is then that she and Brian began thinking about how they could make a difference in the lives of Swedish’s tiniest patients and their brave parents who were facing so many unknowns.

What made their decision even easier was the knowledge that Susie’s employer would match their donation. That meant the value and benefit of their gift would be magnified immediately.


Today, Brian and Susie have two beautiful daughters — both Swedish babies — and both have gone even further to express their appreciation by volunteering their time and advocating for others to support Swedish. 

Together, supporters like Brian, Susie — and you — make extraordinary care possible at Swedish. To learn more about how your gift is making a difference in the lives of patients like Alexa, contact Duncan Robinson, philanthropy officer at Swedish Medical Center Foundation, at Duncan.Robinson@swedish.org or 206-386-3527.