HealthBeat: Levi’s Story


As a Children’s Miracle Network social worker, Rochelle Holloway plays an important role at Sanford Children’s.  She’s the one who approves requests so children and families can get assistance.

“I get to give a lot of the dollars away to help with meals, mileage, lodging and those sorts of things. Specialty foods, formulas, diabetic supplies, asthma medications,” Holloway said.

The list goes on.

Having plenty of experience with babies in the hospital, Holloway was overjoyed when she became pregnant.

As a social worker, she witnessed the difficult and often terrifying journey parents of a NICU baby experience.  After seven and a half months, without much warning, doctors told Holloway and her husband something wasn’t right.  She was hospitalized and put on High-Risk OB, or HiROB.

“I thought that I would be on HiROB for an extended period of time. However, I ended up delivering just after five days.  Four or five days on HiRob I delivered by emergency C-section. They came in on a Monday morning and said Levi wasn’t well,” Holloway said. 

Baby Levi was suffering from Velamentous cord insertion. His umbilical cord was attached to the membrane of the placenta, instead of the placenta itself. That restricted the flow of blood and nutrients needed to help Levi grow.

The months following Levi’s arrival would not be easy ones.  Levi’s lungs were too weak to breathe on their own, he was placed on oxygen and the Holloway family would spend the next 80 days in the NICU. 

“I was in this phase of I can’t even reach reality. It all seemed so real and he goes, ‘You know, I am glad Levi was born early because now I get to watch him grow. Inside we tried to feel and you tried to explain things but I couldn’t experience it with you and now we get to experience it together,'” Holloway said.

With time, it became clear that Levi was having also developmental problems.  What was once her everyday job, now became her own family’s life story.  Holloway and her husband came to understand the real impact Children Miracle Network can have on a family with a preemie baby.

“We used multiple items that CMN funded and it just gives you a kind of joy, a thankfulness that there are people out there willing to help save my kids life,” Holloway said.

All of the things Levi would have learned how to do in the womb, he is now learning at Sanford.  With the help of CMN, Levi has been able to receive some of the best therapy to help him develop.

“If it wasn’t for them and their techniques, I can’t even think where Levi would be at today,” Holloway said.

With the help of CMN and specially-trained therapists, Levi is on the go.

“He’s learned how to sit, roll. Just in the last week he’s learned how to get himself to sitting and crawl on his belly. He’s now pulling to stand from furniture. He’s learning how to get down. So that squatting we were working on, that’s new in the last week,” therapist Wendy Graff said.

Graff has been working with Levi since he first left the NICU.

“It’s fun to see him progress through all of those stages. He’s very fun, he’s very bright and interactive. He’s very smiley and tolerant of handling so I can make him work pretty hard and he tolerates it pretty well,” Graff said.

Graff also takes time to teach the Holloways exercises Levi can do at home.  Levi’s parents say they couldn’t have done it without Sanford Children’s and CMN.

“I am just very, very thankful that there is a Children’s Miracle Network and that Sanford decided to be a Children’s Miracle Network hospital and that there is dedicated staff to pour into the fundraising piece,” Holloway said.

Levi’s story is just one of many you’ll hear on our upcoming prime-time Children’s Miracle Network special.

To find out how you can make a difference be sure to tune in Monday, July 11 starting at 7 p.m. central time on KELO-TV.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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