This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – A local high school senior and her family hope their story will inspire others in the same way they were inspired 18 years ago.

Gwen Wilde was born in October 2002.

Almost immediately the atmosphere in the room went from joyful to concern.

“She was born and everyone was excited, you know a little girl and then I look over to Brian. I think a minute or two later things went crazy and sideways very fast and all I saw from where I was at was the nurse grabbed Gweneth and ran down the hallway with her,” said Laura Wilde.


Her husband, Brian, says the feeling was one of being completely helpless.

“I was wanting so much for somebody to tell me what I could do to help but I couldn’t; all I could do was sit back and worry, I guess. I couldn’t even think straight because I didn’t know what to do; I was so much in shock,” said Brian.

Gwen inhaled meconium during labor.

Her mother remembers being taken to visit her newborn with the feeling that she may never see her again.

“At least my first impression was that she was hanging on by a thread. There was a very good chance that we weren’t bringing a baby home,” said Laura.

Dr. Jen Grow, a neonatologist who had just recently completed her fellowship, made the decision to get in the ambulance with Gwen for just the one block ride to Akron Children’s Hospital.

“She was very very sick, and it was happening very fast, so fast and dramatic; I didn’t know what was going to happen on that block ride over and I didn’t want for her to be left alone,” said Grow.

While in Akron Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care the family describes their experience as a roller coaster. One step forward and one step back.

They remember taking inspiration from a bulletin board just inside the entrance to the NICU where families of other children who were in their shoes had posted photographs of their children who were growing up and thriving.

“There were stories of seeing NICU graduates, you know, that had made it, right? They made it through the experience, and they were amazing little people and big people and I just found that to be so inspirational at the time and so I remember thinking I have to make sure I do this,” said Laura.

Within weeks doctors were able to stabilize Gwen, who went home to grow up and become an honors student, golfer and soccer player, an inspiration to her younger sister, Cassie.

Over the past 18 years they have written Dr. Grow and the hospital sending letters and photos of Gwen, hoping to inspire others who have followed in their same challenging footsteps.

Gwen Wilde (WJW image)

And as Gwen prepares for her high school graduation and college in Georgia, they want others to be comforted that it is possible for families facing the difficulties and the hopelessness they experienced to see their newborns grow up and thrive.

“It turned out amazing. We have had an amazing 18 years. She is everything we could have hoped for. We are so happy we were able to bring her home because we didn’t think we would be able to,” said Laura.

“That’s what a parent is supposed to do is have hope beyond hope and faith beyond faith and we come along and a lot of times we add to that hope, and we add to that faith,” said Dr. Grow

“Everybody has challenges in life; sometimes, we just face them early and get them done with and move on but we all have challenges. Just hang tight for the ride and be the best parent you can be, because that’s all we can do,” she added.