Former NICU patient’s care inspires blanket donations; family, friends express thanks through gift

KINGSPORT – For almost four months, Liam Wampler was a patient in Holston Valley Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit receiving round-the-clock care from dedicated and compassionate medical professionals who tremendously improved his condition

     Now, nearly a year after his release, his loved ones are giving back to show their appreciation for the expert care Liam received. His parents, Evan and Leah Wampler, and their church and family friends recently donated 50 baby blankets to the hospital.

     The fleece blankets will be draped over NICU babies’ isolettes until the infants are big enough to be wrapped in them.

     “We were so affected by and grateful for our experience in Holston Valley’s NICU that we wanted to do something to express our thanks by doing something practical,” Leah said. “Once we started making blankets, the outpouring of support we received was incredible. We’ve been so blessed to have amazing people by our sides during every step of Liam’s journey – including during this project.”

     Blankets donated by the Wamplers and their friends have bright patterns and colors – ranging from kittens and ducks to geometric patterns.

     “This is an amazing and thoughtful gift,” said Laurie Kaudewitz, Holston Valley’s director of women’s and children’s services. “Our babies’ blankets create a healing environment at Holston Valley. Not only do they bring some color into the NICU, but our parents use them to quickly identify their children’s isolettes. And when they’re ready to go home, they take their blankets with them as a keepsake of their time in the NICU.”

     Patients as young as 24 weeks of age – newborns requiring the very highest level of care – grow bigger and stronger in Holston Valley’s Level III NICU, which has 15 dedicated beds. A specially certified NICU medical team and skilled nursing staff provide essential services to ensure the well-being of newborns, including hearing screenings and other tests, prior to the child leaving the hospital.

     The NICU is also a beneficiary of Wellmont Health System’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals funds. Wellmont has been the regional affiliate of Children’s Miracle Network since 1987 and uses those funds to buy state-of-the-art equipment for its pediatric and neonatal intensive care programs, fund life-saving research and support community education programs.

     The Wampler family previously shared their story during annual Children’s Miracle Network events. These include WXBQ and Electric 94.9’s radiothon and WJHL’s Children’s Miracle Network celebration.

     Similar stories will be highlighted on Thursday, May 30, and Friday, May 31, from 7 a.m. -7 p.m., when the radiothon is broadcast live from Bristol Regional Medical Center. And on Sunday, June 2, the annual Children’s Miracle Network celebration will air on WJHL from 6-7 p.m. and 8 -11 p.m.

      During the programs, viewers and listeners can call the stations to make pledges, which will be tallied by station personnel and Wellmont volunteers.

      To learn more about the NICU, please call 423-224-6280. Pledges to Children’s Miracle Network can be made at any time by visiting and clicking the link for giving. More information is also available at


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Jim Wozniak
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