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TISHOMINGO COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — The birth of a baby is a joyous event, but sometimes premature births or other complications mean an extended hospital stay for the newborn. That puts a strain on any family.

Nearly every day for about two months, April Conyers has visited the NMMC Women’s Hospital to be with her newborn baby girl, Emma, who was born 15 weeks premature.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Conyers said.

Conyers lives in Tishomingo, so she drives at least an hour to and from the Women’s Hospital each day. It takes its toll. Long-time nurse anesthetist Eddie Dalton has seen it too many times.

“I see a lot of patient families come to food court to eat, a lot of times they don’t have the money to pay,” Dalton said.

Dalton knows it is especially tough for those with newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He wanted to do something to honor the memory of his late mother, brother and sister, so he kicked in some money.

“We started a fund that gives out a seven dollar meal card,” he said.

Known as “Eddie’s Fund,” it is available for those with babies in the NICU. NMMC social workers assess needs on a case-by-case basis.

“If we can meet just patients’ basic, bare essential needs, as a meal, we should do that,” said NMMC Social Worker Christy Whitley.

“Eddie’s Fund” has just started disbursing meal cards and it is a great help for Conyers, who wants to stay at the Women’ s Hospital when she is in town to be close to her baby.

“It’s relieved a big weight off my shoulder. I can’t go drive all over, around town to get food. I know I can at least go downstairs and get food to eat without having to worry or stress about it and going a whole day without eating,” Conyers said.

In a couple of weeks, “Eddie’s Fund” has grown from its $7,000 seed money to more than $10,000 through the generosity of the hospital and community.

“I’m grateful for the support I’ve had, the outpouring of love and compassion. People here know the need, see the need, work with it everyday and they just have been awesome,” Dalton said.

Dalton says it’s exciting to see how his desire to pay it forward is catching on and helping others.

If you would like to contribute to “Eddie’s Fund,” go to http://www.nmhs.net/hcf.php.   And by the way, April’s baby, Emma, may be able to go home next month. She is growing and doing well.

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