In summer 2015, Murfreesboro couple Jennifer and Tyson Donaldson were ecstatic to learn that they were pregnant with their third child. Their excitement was cut short at 15 weeks when they discovered that the baby, a little girl, had a rare chromosomal disorder known as Turner Syndrome. Jennifer and Tyson named their daughter Blakelyn and continued forward with prayer and cautious optimism under the close watch of an OB-GYN who specialized in high-risk pregnancies. Tragically, Blakelyn’s heart stopped at 23 weeks.
Jennifer credits the warmth and compassion of her nurses at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford for carrying her family through the heartbreak of losing their only daughter. “A nurse named Angela rushed to my bedside and cried with us as she shared that she had lost her own baby years ago,” recalls Jennifer. “She provided us with so much comfort, answered so many of our questions, and helped us get as many pictures as possible of our baby girl.”
Over the next few months, the couple began to slowly heal. One morning in September, Jennifer woke up from a dream with a sudden, overwhelming certainty that she should go back to school and become a nurse. As she turned to tell Tyson about this surprising dream, he looked up from his pillow and said unprompted, “Jennifer, I think you should become a nurse.”
Today, Jennifer is a graduate of the nursing program at Middle Tennessee State University and a nurse intern at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford. Tyson, a military veteran who spent years in corporate America, went through a career transition of his own and became a firefighter with the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department. The couple didn’t stop with solely dedicating their professional lives to helping others — they’ve found another powerful way to serve through the creation of an organization called the Blakelyn Foundation.
The foundation honors the memory of its tiny namesake by assisting parents with hospital and funeral bills after the pain of infant or pregnancy loss. For the past three years, funds have been raised each fall at a 5K held in Smyrna. 299 runners participated in the 2022 fun run and more than 50 grieving families have received grants since the foundation’s inception.
Jennifer and Tyson are raising their boys Brody, Bryce, and Brett, who was born in 2016, to share their heartfelt commitment to serving others.”I want to be an Angela for other people,” says Jennifer, who began her work at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford in November 2020 and will soon join the hospital’s NICU nurse residency program. In fact, Jennifer took her boards this week!
Community members who are interested in supporting the Blakelyn Foundation can learn more at this link. Inspired by families like the Donaldsons, the Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation is funding additional bereavement training for maternal fetal medicine associates.