Navy Officer Supports Families with Sick Children

USS Lincoln

NEWPORT NEWS, Va.-- An officer assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is helping families of seriously ill children this holiday season.

Lt. Mark Schneider and his family celebrated their daughter's first birthday last month after her recovery from a life-threatening condition by giving back to the hospital that saved her life. Now he is thanking those people by being part of a council that helps families that face what he faced a year ago.

In November 2012, Schneider's daughter Kiran underwent surgery to correct a congenital birth defect called omphalocele, which occurs when the intestines form outside the body and fail to return inside the body after birth, which required immediate care.

"She spent more than a month at the Children's Hospital of the Kings' Daughters (CHKD) beginning on Nov. 14 of last year immediately after her birth," said Schneider. 

"With more than a month of around-the-clock care, requiring at times two nurses solely dedicated to her wellbeing while my daughter's health was in jeopardy for about 72 hours," said Schneider. "She had two surgeries, three blood transfusions and at one point 21 separate lines attached to her little body."

Schneider added that his daughter spent several days as the "sickest kid in the hospital" and on an oscillator when her lungs collapsed due to her post surgical swelling. 

"I will say that for about three days during her recovery, it was touch and go, and as I drove into the hospital each morning to visit, my mind was on final planning. I expected the worst," said Schneider, who wanted to do something positive for families experiencing similar situations.

As a tribute to his daughter and the many children who need care, Schneider has been appointed to the hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) Family Advisory Council, which works together to guide the NICU's priorities and planning and requires attending monthly meetings with CHKD staff and patient family members. Through the Family Advisory Council, Schneider and his wife, Ashley, are assisting the hospital find and share similar stories about the power of strengthening families to assist the care of an ill child. 

"I wanted to help those family members that are hurting the way my family hurt one year ago," said Schneider, who will continue to assist with the hospital long after he transfers to his new command in January and continues his career in the U.S. Navy. 

Kiran celebrated her first birthday last month with a special kind of party: a happy reunion with her nurses, complete with cupcakes and her favorite foods (grapes and cheese) at CHKD with the nurses who cared for her during the long days and nights. 

"Kiran is an amazing little girl, who started this world with a battle cry, because one year ago she began the fight of her life," said Schneider. 

Lincoln is currently undergoing refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz class to undergo an RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet and will continue to be a vital part of the nation's defense.

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