For more than a decade, Nebraska Medicine has provided mothers necklaces with a thumbprint, handprint or footprint when they have lost a child.
The Nebraska Medicine Guild Grant allows these purchases to be possible. Over the years, other units have also been able to give this personalized jewelry for adult patients as well. They're called Thumbies. The hospital provides the standard pendant for some patients, however, they are able to order other pieces of jewelry if they would like.
The medical staff was essentially self-taught on how to obtain a good print for this keepsake. That's until they started talking to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office at a joint volunteer event.
The Sheriff's Office sent some fingerprint experts to the hospital this week to teach the medical staff tips on how to obtain better prints. They also talked about the proper paper and ink to use.
Carla Hellbusch who works at Nebraska Medicine has seen the impact these keepsakes have on families, "just knowing that this will bring them, maybe some peace, some comfort, some joy and bring closure."
Erin Kempfert is a nurse at Nebraska Medicine. She had obtained fingerprints for moms in the past. About two years ago, she received her own necklace. "My son was born on June 17, 2016, at 17 weeks gestation. He had died in utero."
Since Noah was only 17 weeks gestation, it was not possible to get a thumbprint, but they were able to get a handprint, then scale it onto the jewelry. Kempfert says she wears it nearly everyday.
She says it is important for her husband, son and daughter to keep his memory alive, and this necklace helps with that. "It's like a constant reminder that he is here with me and always looking over us and keeping an eye out for my two other children because I know he's looking after his older brother and sister."
Nebraska Medicine recently wrote about another family who received this personalized keepsake.