Evie's Story: Cool Therapy Helping Newborns

Evie Staver family

Looking at Evelyn “Evie” Raeann Staver today you would have no idea of the significant hurdles she faced at birth. Her parents, Sara Dickinson and Chris Staver give credit for how well she is developing to a lot of individuals that supported them during Evie’s first year of life. 

We have so many people to thank,” says Sara. “The team at Finley Hospital in Dubuque that knew something was wrong after she was born and sent her to St. Luke’s NICU right away. The doctors and nurses at St. Luke’s were all so wonderful and answered my questions over and over again. They were so patient and kind. Evie’s physical therapist at Finley, Lisa Wulf and my parents Rick and Rae, who work on exercises with Evie nearly every day — all of them collectively, have helped Evie thrive.”

To better understand the magnitude of Chris and Sara’s gratitude we’ll start on November 26, 2016 — Evie’s birthday. 

“I had a perfect pregnancy,” recalls Sara. “A few days before her birth I felt a little off but passed a non-stress test,” explains Sara. “A short time later I started having contractions and went to Finley Hospital in Dubuque as planned for her birth. Everything was progressing normally until sometime during labor, Evie’s heart rate dropped with each contraction. We were told I needed a C-section right away.” 

“I remember when they delivered Evie, she wasn’t crying,” recalls Chris. “She wasn’t responsive. It was pretty scary. She went immediately to the NICU. Thankfully she eventually started responding but the neonatal nurse practitioners at Finley called St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids because they thought she would be a good candidate for cooling therapy. I went home to get some clothes and met her in St. Luke’s NICU.”


“We work closely with the team at Finley Hospital in Dubuque,” explains Andrew Nordine, MD, St. Luke’s NICU medical director. “The NICU nurse practitioners at Finley have worked with our team here at St. Luke’s. They knew Evie would benefit from whole body cooling. This process involves using a cooling blanket to lower the infant’s body temperature to 92.3° Fahrenheit for 72 hours and then slowly rewarming to normal temperatures. Cooling the body slows down the basic functioning of the body and may decrease injury to the brain caused by the lack of oxygen (hypoxia) Evie may have experienced at birth and the lack of blood flow.” 

St. Luke’s is the only American Academy of Pediatrics Level III NICU in the Cedar Rapids area. It is one of only four infant-cooling centers in Iowa. When babies meet the criteria for cooling and receive the treatment, they have lower rates of death and brain injury. This means fewer cognitive and motor problems compared to those babies not treated with hypothermia. Guidelines call for cooling therapy to begin within six hours of the injury, so it was critical to get Evie to St. Luke’s as soon as possible. 

“They put her on the cooling bed and she gradually started to improve,” Chris recalls. “It was somewhat short-lived because that’s when the seizures started. She had seven little seizures.” 

“I wasn’t able to join Evie or Chris until a couple days later,” says Sara. “Chris had been on the phone with me, sending me pictures and videos. It was overwhelming when I saw her the first time. It wasn’t the experience I had always envisioned but I remember thinking how amazing she was. I felt she was in good hands and the team at St. Luke’s was doing everything they could for her.” 

“Evie had an MRI, which determined she had a stroke,” said Chris. “We were devastated to learn the news but the doctors were very supportive and gave us hope in the face of some diffi news.”


“Strokes in infants are more common than people realize,” explains Dr. Nordine. “We don’t always know how they happen but sending Evie to St. Luke’s as quickly as the team at Finley did and using the cooling therapy will help her have the best possible outcome.” 

Evie spent 10 days in St. Luke’s NICU and was then able go home with her parents in Dubuque. She is a bright, happy and active seven-month old. 

“She’s working with Lisa, her physical therapist every other week and she’s hitting all of her milestones. We are just so blessed to have received such great care at Finley and St. Luke’s. We enjoy watching her grow and blossom.” 

Every baby deserves a happy ending. 

Schedule your tour of UnityPoint Health birth suites today. Call us!

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