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10:16 AM

A NICU Reunion 12 Years in the Making

Ansley Ross in the NICU (left) and standing by the NICU room named in honor of her support for Children's Mercy (right).

Ansley Ross has no memory of her seven weeks at Children’s Mercy. This is because she was a newborn brought to Children’s Mercy in an ambulance soon after her birth at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. But Ansley’s parents, Stan and Merett, remember it all too vividly.

Ansley was diagnosed with Gastroschisis during an ultrasound while still in utero. Following the diagnosis, Stan and Merett met with a team to coordinate Ansley’s delivery and immediate transfer to Children’s Mercy for the mandatory surgery needed within six hours of her birth.

Twelve years later, Ansley thinks frequently about the stories she’s heard about how she came into the world and her seven weeks in the NICU. She uses what she knows to bring awareness and support to the NICU that helped her overcome her own health challenges and grow into the confident pre-teen she is today.

“Ansley began asking more questions about age five when she did not like her belly button which is larger and different from ours. We always told her it was very special because the surgeons made it especially for her! Thus began her increased curiosity, interest and frequent comments about wanting to help other kids at Children's Mercy,” Merett says.

Ansley and her dad, Stan, at the Digital Ally Open golf tournament (left) and presenting the $30,000 check to Children's Mercy (right).

During the summer of 2017, Ansley single-handedly raised $30,000 at the Digital Ally Open, a web.com and PGA-sanctioned golf tournament held annually at Lionsgate. Ansley sold hats signed by local celebrities to tournament attendees.The money Ansley raised was donated to the NICU at Children’s Mercy.

Recently, Ansley and her mother returned to Children’s Mercy to take a special tour of the NICU where they were unexpectedly reunited with Sarah English, a nurse who was a vital part of Ansley’s care twelve years prior. (pictured right.)

“We had wonderful nurses and developed a special bond/friendship with Sarah in the seven weeks Ansley was in the NICU,” Merett says. The Rosses attended Sarah’s wedding, but eventually lost touch with her. They thought of her frequently through the years, but didn’t know how to find her. Meeting her again was a surprise and pleasure.

Sarah English has been a nurse at Children’s Mercy for 15 years. Sarah says she always knew that she wanted to be a NICU nurse, but that she had no idea about how rewarding and fulfilling the job would actually be.

“One of the rewards of taking care of critically ill newborns is when you are given the opportunity to see how they are doing years down the road. I cared for Ansley Ross and was her primary nurse in ICN for several weeks. She recently visited the ICN and had raised money to donate to the hospital. I was thrilled to see the beautiful, intelligent and giving person she has become,” Sarah says.

In honor of Ansley’s support of Children’s Mercy, a room in the NICU has been named ‘The Ansley Ross Room in Celebration of Little Bits of Good’. According to Ansley, Little Bits of Good means “you don’t have to do a big thing to make a difference. Even if I didn’t get to do something that big, I can do lots of little things to add up and help others.”


Children’s Mercy is the only top-level (Level IV) NICU in the region. Learn more about the neonatology program and the resources available.