To help the parents and families of premature babies cope during such a difficult phase in their lives, stay encouraged, receive support from several resources, and keep the faith that even though they have endured such a challenge, life will continue and so will they. We want to strengthen them with knowledge, socially, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Ultimately strengthening the community as a whole.
Selena Tisdale, Our Founder & Director, was born and raised in Kingstree, South Carolina. She is married and the mother of two amazing and beautiful daughters, Brionna and Aubriell. She has always been known for her caring and loving nature as well as her affection for children. “I always knew I wanted to be in the field of assisting & supporting people since I was a child”. After graduating from Kingstree Senior High School, Selena went on to obtain her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Limestone College. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Webster University. Upon completing her formal education, Selena began her professional career with the Williamsburg County Treasurer's Office for four years until she transitioned into her position with the Williamsburg County Disability and Special Needs Board for 6 ½ years where they provide: quality services and support for citizens who have intellectual disabilities, autism, developmental disabilities, head injuries, or spinal cord injuries. She is presently employed with Waccamaw EOC, which they provide innovative services and collaborating with agencies and organizations to promote economic self-sufficiency while also giving a hand-up to those who need it most. Selena also serves as a Sunday school teacher and member of the Usher’s Board for her church so working to provide relief and services to the community has always been woven within her. After experiencing the memorable time with her son, Eli, Selena knew she had to provide services and care to those parents enduring the same. Please visit the “Eli’s Story” page to read about her journey.
Eli Collins Foundation for Premature Babies is an established 501 (c) 3 charitable non profit entity in the State of South Carolina. Our traditional business model is based on the overall care, nurturing, education, and assistance of parents involved in the journey of having a premature baby. Our amazing team works diligently as well as our full and part-time volunteers. Think you would be a good fit? Contact us for more information!
On December 23, 2014 I found out I was pregnant. I was very happy, but I knew I had to be very careful. My due date was August 15, 2015. The first four months were great I just mainly eat, sleep, and worked. On March 31, 2015 I found out it was a boy. The previous appointment he was so active the doctors could not determine the sex. We were excited to be having a boy. In April it seemed like he was having a field day every day. He was just that active. My next appointment was scheduled for April 28, 2015 and that would have been my 6 month visit. However, on April 24, 2015 I began to feel more pressure than usual and I felt something maybe wrong. I drove myself to Carolina’s Hospital in Florence SC, 45 minutes away apparently in labor. When I got there they immediately got me settled in a room and assessed me. The Doctor said, “You are in labor and your uterus lining is paper thin.” They tried everything to keep Eli from coming. We had no idea what Eli was going through in there. So, as I continued to dilate they called McLeod Children’s Hospital (NICU), because their more equipped for micro preemies. They had the best team that came to transport Eli.
At this point I began to cry, because I knew I was only 23 weeks and 6 days. I didn’t think that I was actually going to deliver my son on this day. I called my family and Eli’s dad to let them know that I will not just be staying overnight I am about to deliver. Of course they panicked. So about 30 minutes later I was in the process of giving birth and the Dr. yelled, “Stop pushing now I see an arm.” He said we are going to have to do an emergency C-section. They were trying to give my family time to get there, but after that they could not hold out any longer. As I was counting back from 10, with the anesthesia, I got to number seven and the nurse said, “Dad is here” and that was the last thing I heard. When I woke up I was in a room filled with family and friends. That meant so much to me and still does. The Dr. had already informed Eli’s dad on what was going on and why he was going to McLeod. The Doctor came in eventually after I woke up and told me he weighed only 1lb 3oz, and my cord was tied in a very fine tight knot. Which that caused him to be deprived of oxygen, and it is no way of knowing how long it was like that. Then he proceeded to inform me of all the risk that comes with babies being born this early.
The next morning one of the Doctors from McLeod came over to Carolina’s Hospital and told me it did not look good for him, because his lungs was very under developed. They could only give me an assumption far as him making it through the day or a week. It was just that uncertain and serious. I prayed and cried and blamed myself for several reasons, thinking of so many ways it could have possibly been prevented. At a time like this you are not thinking clearly, and my mind was all over the place. I went to see Eli later that evening. I was so happy to finally get to see him and feel that connection. I was looking at him and just could not believe how tiny he was. I was unable to touch him, because he was in an incubator with the light on. There were so many machines hooked up to him, and I was looking like oh my goodness. After speaking with the nurse I decided to breastfeed. So, between pumping every three hours, traveling almost an hour one way to go see Eli, and maintaining a healthy diet in order to pump regularly was a lot of work. I was so amazed at the energy I had through all of this, but that is a mother’s love.
As time went by Eli began to finally gain weight, open his eyes and I would read to him and pump milk bed side. He had X-rays done 24/7. His results never really improved too much. He got the intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) test for the brain bleed which the levels are grades 1-4, and he was a grade 1-2 and that eventually went away. Eli continued gaining weight, but breathing was not enough to be off the ventilator. He was from the Jet to the Oscillator (high frequency ventilation) a few times. After 2 months he finally was able to get on the conventional ventilator. I will never forget July 1, 2015 when I received a call from the nurse, Ms. Linda, and she said “I am about to send you something.” Within a second, I received a beautiful pic of her holding him. When she told me I could finally hold him; I got to McLeod hospital so fast. I held him about 4 or 5 hours. He opened his eyes and looked at me, and smiled so big the nurses caught it on video. Imagine from April 24-June 30 not being able to hold him until July 1. That is a long time, but I was so overjoyed. That moment was everything. It was determined that he would need surgery to close his PDA, which is an abnormal blood flow that occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. This is an essential part of fetal blood circulation. This surgery would have to be done at the Medical University of SC (MUSC).
There were several concerns because he was still dependent of the ventilators. We prayed and kept positive and that was a successful surgery. He was such a feisty little boy. He did not like noise or anyone bothering him. We stayed in Charleston, SC at (MUSC) about 2 weeks. I traveled to Charleston 77 miles 1 way four or five times a week, leave there and go straight to work for 8 hours and get up and do the same thing the next day. The love for my son, a praying family, and only God kept me going. He was transferred back to McLeod, but his lungs were still a major issue. His eye exams were good and he was eating and growing well. He loved to suck on his pacifier and on that tube. It is now the middle of August and Eli is a little over 9lbs and Doctors are talking about possible tracheostomy. He has severe BPD (Bronchopulmonary dysplasia). This is their last resort, because he has had several rounds of steroids to help get off the ventilator. Most preemies are off the ventilator within 45-120 days. However, with Eli being deprived of oxygen because of my cord being tied in a knot was major factor. We had to go back to Charleston, SC for this surgery as well. I looked at him and how strong he was, and how big he was getting day by day. I would talk to him, read the bible to him, and children’s books every visit. The Doctors were all amazed that he even made it to this point. We all know man is not in charged only God is. It is the beginning of September and we are now back in Charleston at MUSC for the surgery. The Doctors waited for his oxygen levels to go down from his helicopter transport for surgery. Over the next following week about two days before the procedure they canceled it, because his oxygen level would not come down. Now it is the waiting period. I rubbed and talked to Eli telling him he needed to get his oxygen down so the doctors can do the procedure for him to eventually come home. He smiled and looked at me, and later that night while I was at work, I called back and the nurse stated his oxygen level was dropping some. She asked, what you told him today when you were here. I laughed and said I told him stop being stubborn. He was at 90% that was news to my ears. I asked her to put the phone to his ear so I could talk to him. Over the next few days I continued to travel 4-6 days a week to MUSC (77 miles 1 way) and work my 8 hour shifts off of love for my son and the strength of the Lord. The next following week September 21 he was at 85% on his oxygen and his BPD (Bronchopulmonary dysplasia) still was not improving, but he was 11lbs. He had a very good appetite.
Saturday morning September 26 his dad and I went to see him and spent some time with him. I held him and his dad talked about football. We left around 2:30pm, because I had to work that evening. I called and checked on him around 7:30 p.m. and the nurse stated “she had to go up on his oxygen, he was at 100%, and they’re going to put him back on the Oscillator ventilator.” I did not want to hear that, but he has been up and down through this entire journey so I expected his levels to come back down some. I started to pray immediately. At 10:30p.m I got another call and they said I needed to come to the hospital as soon as I can, because it didn’t look good and they were afraid he wouldn’t make it through the night. The next question was “Do you want us to resuscitate if he codes?” I said “yes”. I immediately prayed and begin talking to GOD. On my way I got a flat tire, I began to cry and started praying a little harder saying God I have to get to my son. I got home and then my family and I went on what seemed like the longest ride of my life. I got another phone call and the doctor said “his pressure was continuously dropping and they may have to resuscitate.” I said “ok, I am 30 miles out.” The Doctor said, “I do not think he is going to make it that long. I said “you resuscitate him.” He said, “Ok.” I prayed when I hung up the phone. “Father God I know through you all things are possible. You are a miracle worker, you are a healer, and you are a deliverer. God I want my son here with me. I don’t know your plans for him, but I do know that I don’t want to go to this hospital and my son is gone. I said Eli I am speaking to you through GOD, hear me son. Hold on for momma please. I know you have been fighting a battle. You are such a strong boy. Momma does not know how tired you are. If you are tired and weary and you are ready to go be with the Lord you have to let momma know, because I refuse to give up and give in. Hold on for momma. I am coming to hold and talk to you. Father God you have the last say. Cover my son in Jesus name, Amen.” I got to the hospital and he was barely hanging on. I immediately rubbed him down and began talking to him. His pressure began to rise back where it normally ranges. He was still on 100% oxygen, but he heard me talking to him. He gave his family another hour of time with him. He passed right in my arms, and I did not even know it September 27, 2015 at 2:34 a.m. I was still holding him the machine was flat-lined and I just sat there and cried for a long time. We were in disbelief. I went through a lot and I saw a lot while traveling this journey. I saw other parents going through what I was and more. The struggles and Financial Burdens while still trying to provide for your family and being a good parent to your preemie can be overwhelming. It is a lot and it doesn’t matter if you are married or single it is a journey you will never forget. I miss my son every day and not a day goes by I don’t think about or imagine what he would be doing. God makes no mistakes and he gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I wanted to take all what I have endured through this journey and assist other families during these times. I can relate on all levels, I had 5 months with my son and I am thankful for that. I know Eli would want me to be such an advocate on his behalf. This is why I decided to establish this Foundation not only the remembrance of Eli, but to be a support to the parents on their preemie’s journey.
~Eli's Story from the heart of his mother, Selena Tisdale~