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Couple creates foundation to help babies in neonatal units, their families

Published on -8/4/2014, 8:47 AM

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By Molly McMillin

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT) Collins Grace Thuy Huynh spent weeks in neonatal intensive care during her short life of four and a half months.

The little girl was born with a rare chromosome abnormality. One of the more common side effects is a heart defect.

She died July 17.

Now, her parents, Tien and Ashley Huynh, want to help other babies in neonatal units and their families and keep the spirit of Collins Grace alive.

Together, they formed the Collins Grace Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

It's a way to find the silver lining in their loss.

"This is our new mission," said Tien Huynh. "It's to help as many babies as we can."

Proceeds will go to buy onesies, blankets, teddy bears, prayer shawls and other items.

Donations will also be used for families without means to buy meals or hotel rooms when they are away from home to be with their child, Huynh said.

Some come to neonatal units in Wichita and Kansas City from miles away.

"At a time they should worry about their babies, they shouldn't have to worry about their next meal or where they're going to sleep that night," Huynh said.

So far, they've raised more than $26,000.

Every dollar will go to the babies and to those in need.

"When you're in the NICU, those are some dark days," he said. "We want to bring a little light to those families and their babies."

Tien, 33, is a project integrator on the Learjet 85 at Bombardier Learjet. Ashley, 30, is a social worker with the Wichita school district.

They've been in touch with Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph in Wichita and Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

As the foundation grows, the Huynhs plan to help neonatal units at other hospitals, they said.

During her life, Collins was in neonatal units at Wesley and Children's Mercy.

While there, the Huynhs saw babies without the support of family.

"It broke our hearts," Tien Huynh said.

"Sometimes the parents aren't engaged with the baby," he said. There are a variety of reasons why.

Sometimes a job keeps them from being there. Sometimes parents abuse alcohol or drugs.

It's important for newborns and parents to bond early on, Huynh said.

"When you have absent parents, it's hard to bond and establish that trust," he said.

The Huynhs want the foundation to provide education about the importance of bonding.

They want to encourage more people to volunteer at neonatal care units to hold babies so they feel that human interaction and feel loved, Tien Huynh said.

Collins' life was a blessing; she brought joy and sunshine to all around her, they said.

She was born March 4.

Ashley Tuynh said at the memorial service that it's the only day of the year that tells you what to do.

"It tells you to march forth," she told them.

A strong faith and family and friends are helping them get through.

"What we're trying to do with her foundation is to touch a lot of lives," Tien Huynh said.

To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/brkwvg.

(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle

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