Ashlyn and Josh Murphy are turning a family tragedy into a source of hope for other families through a special program benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Twenty weeks into Ashlyn’s pregnancy, the Murphys’ unborn son was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect. Ashlyn was induced at 38 weeks, and Sawyer was born May 9, 2013. Over the next several weeks, he endured multiple open-heart surgeries, yet tragically—only 18 days after he came into the world—Sawyer died May 27.
“We’ve done a lot to try to live through our grief and find joy,” says Ashlyn, now a teacher in an Atlanta suburb.
Launching Sawyer’s Art Drive is a big part of that healing process. Because Sawyer lived his life at Egleston Hospital, a campus of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the couple wanted to do something to make the hospital experience a little more bearable for other families spending extended time there. They also wanted to give back to the team who cared for them during those excruciating weeks.
“I spent my first Mother’s Day in the hospital with Sawyer,” Ashlyn says. “All these people were posting on Facebook about how happy they were to be mothers and how grateful they were for their kids, and I wasn’t even sure if mine was going to make it.”
The Child Life Specialists, or CLS, at Egleston made a Mother’s Day card for her with a photo they’d taken of Sawyer and went out of their way to make her day special, she says. They also had crayons and Play-Doh on hand for older patients and siblings to use as a creative outlet during their hospital visits.