Ashley Thrasher, RN

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AJC Celebrating Nurses Ashley Thrasher

NICU at Piedmont Athens Regional

Part of the job of being a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit means facing grim realities. When staring down a difficult situation in the fall of last year, Ashley Thrasher decided to be a light in the overwhelming darkness.

A mother received the devastating news that her newborn was suffering from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. According to Thrasher, the mother was put between a rock and a hard place. She faced the difficult decision of either taking her baby home confined to a machine —a ventilator and a feeding tube— or letting the baby go.

“For me, I could see what she wanted to do,” Thrasher recalled. “She wanted to let her baby go, but she had all of these plans for him. She said, ‘We’re never going to celebrate his birthday or Christmas.’”

Touched by the mother’s broken dreams, Thrasher decided go that extra mile for the patient.

“I asked her, ‘‘What can we do right now that you would want to do with him?,’” Thrasher said. “I told her we could still celebrate Halloween and Christmas. And she just lit up. I wanted her to have those memories.”

So Thrasher set out to help create those memories. For the Halloween celebration, they a dressed the infant in a costume and decorated his room. An early Christmas party found Thrasher stocking on holiday decor and decking the halls of the child’s room with Christmas cheer.

Several days after the holiday celebrations, the family asked Ashley to be present as the baby took his final breaths.

“Again, Ashley gave her heart to this family ,” wrote Lindsay Hyde, Thrasher’s manager, “and again, was the rock they needed on the hardest day.”

Thrasher says she walked away realizing the significance of her actions.

“Trying to think above and beyond for these families is so important,” Thrasher said, “especially for families who are not going to get these memories. I think my biggest take away was that I don’t want this to be the last time that we do this.”