Sinai dedicates unit to memory of woman

Neonatal ICU to be named after a former patient

March 03, 2006|By KRISTI FUNDERBURK | KRISTI FUNDERBURK,SUN REPORTER

She was born months before her mother's due date. And now, nearly four years after her unexpected death at the age of 28, a hospital unit that treats premature babies will bear her name.

The Jennifer Gandel Kachura Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will be dedicated today at Sinai Hospital. A $200,000 donation in the Baltimore County woman's name helped pay for renovations at the unit. "It means to me that my daughter will never be forgotten," said Barbara Gandel. "In her name, they can help other babies like her."

Jennifer Anne Gandel weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces when she was born at Sinai and was in neonatal intensive care for nearly three months.

She grew up in Pikesville, graduating from Pikesville High School in 1992. She went on to become a lawyer, clerking for judges in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

In 2002, less than a year after her marriage, Jennifer Gandel Kachura died of a pulmonary embolism while recuperating from back surgery at her Owings Mills home. After her death, a foundation was established in her name.

"The important thing is really about something positive coming out of a tragedy," said her husband, Matthew Kachura. "Someone at the age of 28 dies from a complication of surgery, and you hope something positive comes out of it."

The foundation has donated medical equipment several times to Sinai Hospital. It is also establishing a scholarship in her name at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, her alma mater.

Her husband said the family has long had a relationship with Sinai Hospital. Her mother was a social worker there briefly, and her grandmother also worked there briefly, he said. Her brother was born there.

Matthew Kachura, a 31-year-old research analyst, volunteers at the hospital.

The foundation formally agreed to its most recent gift at the end of last year, and construction, which included replacing floors, lighting and cabinets and buying new furniture and privacy curtains, started in the unit last month.

A second phase of renovations will be completed within a year, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Jennifer Gandel Kachura's name is displayed outside the ward.

Yesterday, her mother recalled her daughter's birth and the joy she felt when the little girl was strong enough to leave the hospital.

"It was just a very special day," she said. "Every mother who has a premature baby looks forward to the day her baby comes home."

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