WATERLOO — A CuddleCot is something you don’t know is important until you need it.
After her own family’s tragedy, Danielle Franck of Quasqueton is working to get CuddleCots into local hospitals to help others unfortunate enough to need them.
CuddleCots are refrigerated bassinets that allow parents of stillborn infants to spend a little more time together.
Franck’s son Tanner was stillborn in October 2016 at a Cedar Rapids hospital. A CuddleCot allowed her family to spend 12 more hours with him.
“It allows parents to keep the baby in the room with them, take pictures and spend time with them,” Franck said. “From our loss it made a huge difference to be able to have our son with us.”
Covenant Medical Center and UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital don’t have CuddleCots.
“There are quite a few hospitals that don’t have them in the United States,” Franck said. “Last time I looked there were only about 600 in the whole United States.”
CuddleCots are made by a company in the United Kingdom.
“It’s something fairly new to the United States,” Franck said. “Waterloo doesn’t have any, Cedar Rapids does, Iowa City does, but I would say there’s more hospitals that don’t have them than do.”
After Franck lost her son, she started making boxes for parents who suffer infant loss.
The Tanner John Care Boxes were just the beginning for Franck.
She started talking with Suzanne Bellinger, a clinical nurse specialist at the Family Birth Center at Covenant Medical Center, about what she could do to help.
Franck began looking at ways to bring CuddleCots to local hospitals.
“I did some searching and found a lot of people who do fundraisers in memory of their babies,” she said.
Franck is hoping to work with Covenant Foundation to bring a CuddleCot to its Family Birth Center.
“It’s our way of giving back to the loss community in honor of our son,” Franck said. “Giving parents the time to take pictures and make memories and say hellos and goodbyes without having the dramatic effect of what they look like when they’re born after so many hours.”
Bellinger agrees CuddleCots are important for parents of children who are stillborn or die shortly after birth.
“Anything we can do to offer something additional to these families is important, because there’s no way to get these moments back,” Bellinger said.
“It’s not something anyone every really plans for,” she added. “I think what we’re offering now is good as well, but offering the CuddleCot is just something additional we can do for families.”
Not every family may want to use a CuddleCot, Bellinger said.
“It’s something you don’t understand on a personal level until you go through it or you know somebody who has been through it,” Franck said.
Franck is able to purchase a CuddleCot for a cheaper price than a hospital, because the manufacturer offers discounts to families and nonprofit organizations.
“For us, raising the funds privately and donating it, it’s about $3,000 (for one),” Franck said. “The hospital can clean it and reuse it multiple times.”
Franck doesn’t plan to stop at just one. She hopes to raise money for multiple CuddleCots for both Covenant and Allen.
“My goal is to get tons of them, but they cost so much that it’s all up to how many people are willing to donate,” Franck said.
A Facebook and GoFundMe page have been set to help raise awareness and money toward the project. More than $300 has been raised since her campaign began a month ago.
Franck’s Gofundme page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/tanner-cuddlecot-campaign
“For as much as they cost, just one family being able to benefit from it makes a huge difference,” Franck said.