West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital recently received a donation of a Cuddle Cot for the Sallye Jean Toniette, M.D. Women’s Center. Cuddle Cots are used for those who may
experience the loss of a baby. The cooling method of the Cuddle Cot allows parents, siblings and family members precious time with their baby after experiencing this loss.
Through the generosity of their friends and family, this donation was orchestrated by Don and Shelley Harder who experienced this tragedy in 2002. “Sharing my story and making this donation allows me to help others who might be in this position at some point,” Shelley says.
“We are grateful for this donation from Don and Shelley. We recognize the sadness they endured and we celebrate their son, David Murl and his legacy. We know families in the future will receive comfort from this gift,” says Janie Fruge, CEO of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.
Shelley Vincent Harder, a 1992 Sulphur High graduate, has many fond memories of growing up in Sulphur. After high school, she went away to college, married Don, and they settled in Indiana. She experienced a miscarriage and then found out she was pregnant again in 2002. At 20 weeks into the pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed the baby’s heart had stopped. Devastated, Shelley recalls her first thought upon hearing the news was that she needed to come home to Sulphur for further testing and the comfort of her family.
Dr. Ben Darby was her physician when she lived in Sulphur, so she and Don made flight arrangements and arrived in Sulphur the next day for Dr. Darby to take over her care. “He was as kind as I remember, I will always remember his compassion. He told me that because I was 20 weeks along, I would need to deliver this baby,” Shelley says. “It was one of the most difficult times in my life but I received the most loving care at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. Friends from my childhood were nurses there and they cared for me like family.”
David Murl Harder was born on November 2, 2002. It is thanks to the WCCH nurses that Don and Shelley have mementos of him. “They took pictures and gave us his footprints. Don and I were coping with this new reality and through it all, the nurses were true angels. They were so aware of what I would want in the coming weeks,” she says.
Over time, Shelley learned that other members in her family had experienced babies who were stillborn. “These occurred years ago and there weren’t many details known of these babies, there were no pictures. In one case, the baby was quickly taken away and the mother didn’t even know the gender. I felt blessed to have the photos and footprints of David Murl,” she says.
Many years after this experience, Shelley met Linda Znachko through her church in Indiana. Linda founded “He Knows Your Name”, an organization dedicated to giving children dignity and honor in death by celebrating their life. Through Linda, Shelley learned of Cuddle Cots and Linda’s efforts to bring them to as many hospitals as possible.
The idea resonated deeply with Shelley. She began telling her family and friends about her desire to raise the funds to buy a Cuddle Cot and donate it to West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.
“I knew it needed to come to WCCH and to Sulphur,” she says. Within a few months, thanks to the generosity of her family and friends, Shelley raised enough money to buy a Cuddle Cot.
Today, Shelley and Don have three children ages 14, 12 and 10. Shelley is passionate about sharing her story in hopes it helps other families.
“We want this to be a blessing to other families,” she says.
For more information about the Cuddle Cot, call (337) 527-4100.