- President, Universal Pictures
- Vice Chair, March of Dimes California Chapter Board of Directors
“People assume when you have a baby, that it’s going to be healthy, and you take your baby home. That’s just not the reality in this country. The problem of prematurity cuts across every group, every kind of person, every kind of family.
”With more than 500,000 premature births in the U.S. alone, and more than 15 million worldwide, the problem of preterm birth is far more widespread, and far more serious than most people realize. When you, your family and your baby become part of those statistics, they take on a whole new meaning. That’s what happened to the Horowitz family.
Their first child, Chloe, had carried beyond full term, so there was no indication there would be any difficulty with the birth of their second daughter Jordan.
“That’s the thing about prematurity. You can do everything right and it still happens. My wife, Joi, was struggling with her own sense of loss and failure, then they take our baby away and put her in an incubator and she couldn’t even hold her,” Jimmy explained.
“If the doctors are honest with you, they’re not making any promises until you get through certain markers and hurdles,” Jimmy said, ”You have a few good days and a lot of really bad days.”
Like many parents, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) became a place of both pain and hope for Jimmy and Joi. The many hours spent beside their baby’s incubator, the tedium of the machines and the treatments, and the raw emotions that rise and fall on every report, combine to make the whole experience far more challenging than parents expect.
“The nurses tell you that babies who have more interaction do better. As hard as it is, you have an obligation to be there. You make that sacrifice for your kid. Hopefully it makes you stronger. You spend a lot of time staring at your child,” Jimmy stated.
“I used to go to the hospital late at night. It’s quiet, your baby hears you, and you can talk to her, sing to her, read to her, do all the things you do as a parent with a new born at home. But it’s scary and it’s hard.” Even with the best results, once your baby has been in the NICU it stays with you and remains a difficult memory.
When Jimmy talks to potential donors, the NICU is a place he never skips. “Going back to the NICU never gets easier. You hear that beeping and it takes you back to when you were there. It’s a painful memory,” he recalled. “At the same time, I’ve taken many people through, because if we want them to understand the challenges of prematurity, they need to see it and know how difficult it is.”
The NICU is an intense experience and it’s just the beginning. “When they finally tell you that you’re ready to go home, you’re thrilled and terrified at the same time,” Jimmy remarked. “You’re used to being in the hospital around experts taking care of your child. But then you become the caregiver in ways that you never imagined. Our daughter was on oxygen for a year.”
Medical science has made great strides in the treatment of preterm newborns, but a positive outcome is anything but assured.
“It’s amazing what can be done for babies born at 24 and 25 weeks. But it’s a blessing and a curse,” Jimmy said. “On one hand it’s a miracle, but on the other, they can have challenges for the rest of their lives. We were lucky. We have a fourteen year old who is a miracle. That’s why we give back. Our daughter is a regular teenager who has nothing in her life holding her back now.”
Having been through the trauma of having a child born prematurely, Jimmy and his family are passionate in their support for the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine.
“This is the single most important thing the March of Dimes has done. The idea that these experts from different fields are working together… is amazing. I think they’re on to something that can change the future. If you understand the importance of every baby having a healthy start for every mom and dad, for every family, you’ll know why this is so vital and urgent.
I can’t think of a better way to use your resources than to support the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine. This can do a lot of good for so many people.”