The Gift of Family

The Gift of Family
John and Kelly Fitzgerald with their 7-year-old son, Thomas, and obstetrician Thomas McElrath, MD, PhD. The Fitzgeralds named their son after McElrath, crediting him with saving Thomas's life.

In the months leading up to the birth of her first child, Kelly Fitzgerald experienced a number of emotions. Joy, anticipation, excitement—it was a wonderful mix of feelings as she and her husband, John, were becoming parents for the first time. Then, unexpectedly, Fitzgerald went into labor only 22 weeks into her pregnancy, and additional complications threatened her unborn child’s life.

"I thought my pregnancy was over," says Fitzgerald. "I knew I had to try and fight, though. I had to try to save my baby."

To delay delivery and ensure her baby's life, Fitzgerald needed a special surgical procedure that required skill and expertise that few doctors possess—and it had to happen right away. Fortunately, she was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and came under the care of Thomas McElrath, MD, PhD.

"The medical and technical expertise of Dr. McElrath and his team is truly remarkable," says Fitzgerald. "They are simply the best at what they do."

Fitzgerald's condition stabilized after the procedure, but she needed bed rest at the hospital for seven weeks before she could return home.

"During those weeks, I received excellent care—both physically and emotionally—by the nurses, physical therapists, social workers and support staff," Fitzgerald says. "Beyond their skill, they brought true compassion to the bedside. They made me feel like I was doing a good job, that I was strong."

Finally, the time was right for the baby to arrive. The Fitzgeralds were blessed with a healthy son, and it didn't take long for them to decide on the perfect name. They named him Thomas, after McElrath, who they credit with saving their son's life. More than six years later, they still send messages of gratitude to McElrath on Thomas's birthday in late April and on Thanksgiving.

"If not for the quick thinking and multidisciplinary care I received from Dr. McElrath and his staff, I would have lost Thomas," Fitzgerald says. "But today he is thriving. My husband and I owe everything to the staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The Brigham gave us our family."