Who We Are

Avery’s Angels Board of Directors

Nicole Blomerus, BScN
Retired OR Nurse Kelowna, BC, Canada

Jessica Deighan M.Ed, BSSE.
Developmental Specialist Instructionist, Dynamite Therapy Arizona Early Intervention Program, Grand Canyon University Doctoral Canidate 2018.

Marcia L. Feldkamp, PhD, PA
Associate Professor, Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine, SLC, Utah

Jessica Holmes
BA Psychology UNC 2007, MAT Special Education UGA 2012

Beth Moore, M.Ed.
Family Services Manager, Partnership for Children,  Johnston County, NC.

Mark Puder, MD, PhD
Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Surgery Harvard Medical School

Melissa Turner RN, BSN
Newborn Critical Care Center Charge Nurse, North Carolina Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC

Avery’s Angels Team

Meghan Hall – CEO, Founder

In 2009 my life changed as I knew it; I became a mom to an amazing little boy named Avery. His case of gastroschisis looked to be extremely rosy; small loop out, good size and gestational age, strong lungs and heart. However after 107 days Avery moved very unexpectedly to watch over his family, imprinting a legacy of hope and advocacy in my life. I was “that mom” with my spiral notebook, searching the internet every minute I got trying to figure out when I was pregnant what to expect, where to go, during treatment I was looking for validation for medical treatment and case progression. There was not anything formalized at the time, and I knew from being told the numbers that there had to be many more like me. With the encouragement of every “angel” that had been over his case- from family to his medical team, I started blogging, emailing and posting about creating a community, providing support, education and information for families affected and the world about the disease that was on the rise. more…

 

Marcia Feldkamp – Officer of Birth Defect Research Pediatric Genetics

Dr. Feldkamp is an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics. Her interest and career in birth defect epidemiology began while working as a physician assistant and caring for women of reproductive age. Due to the limitations of existing data in Utah, Dr. Feldkamp led the efforts to develop a co-agency program between the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics for a clinically based birth defects surveillance system. Dr. Feldkamp was one of several founding members of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network in 1997 and became President of this organization in 2005. This Network is a cohesive group of individuals from states in the US that are interested in birth defects surveillance, research, and prevention. more…

 

Carissa Shoemaker – Director for Bereavement and Loss Support

My name is Carissa Shoemaker. I am a hospice CNA and a mother of 5, one of which is our gastroschisis angel Emersyn.  We have 3 additional girls Jaelyn, Khloe, and Liyah and our rainbow boy Oakley.  Our gastroschisis journey began in 2014. After extensive hospital visits and stays our Emmy was born April 21st 2014 with a large case of gastroschisis involving multiple organs including her intestines, liver, and stomach. She had multiple complications with her lung function due to the size of her gastroschisis and a large hole requiring donor skin and a wound vac. After 24 days in NICU and 2 surgeries our Emersyn cuddled in our arms filled with love and took her last breath on May 15, 2014 at 5:15pm. 2 months after Emersyn passed away I leaped into a new career with hospice as that’s where I felt drawn and have savored what I’ve learned through my time there. more…

 

Kaitlyn Pitman – Director of Social Media, Awareness Day Coordinator

My name is Kaitlyn, at 20 weeks I found out I was going to have a baby girl born with gastroschisis and I found Avery’s Angels while I was pregnant. Once my daughter was out of the NICU I knew I wanted to give back to other parents affected by Gastroschisis. I became a parent volunteer and helped with carepackages for awhile. But then I had the chance to step in and take over Social Media and I love it. I love that I can give back to Avery’s Angels, because even to this day they are still helping out me and my daughter. Now, as the Awareness Day Coordinator, you can contact me for more details on how to request your state, region, or province declare July 30th as Gastroschisis Awareness Day. Or, visit our Official Proclamation Programs page. more…

 

 

Wendy Hutchens – Assistant Director of Social Media

I’m Wendy Hutchens and I live in a small town called East Bend in North Carolina. I am the mother of a very adventurous and full of life Vanishing Gastroschisis Princess. Our journey in the Gastroschisis community began when I was only 12 weeks pregnant. It was at that appointment that she was diagnosed with Gastroschisis. I was fed the line “If my baby had to be born with a birth defect this is what I would want”. I was also fed the line “It’s an easy fix”. I was told about AAGF by one of the best doctors at Brenners Children’s Hospital. I never thought about support because I was always someone to handle stuff on my own. After my daughter was born without her intestines being on the outside she was transferred to Brenners and re diagnosed with Vanishing Gastroschisis and Short Bowel Syndrome. more…

 

Megan Turcotte – Graphic Designer

In 2003 Megan Turcotte’s son Josh was born with rare complications arising from gastroschisis. He developed Short Bowel Syndrome from this complication. Megan and her husband journeyed through the medical world never knowing another parent who had a child like Josh. While Josh grew, Megan never stopped searching for information and an answer to the question, “Why?” During this search, in 2009, she found Avery’s Angels. It was the first time in 6 years she didn’t feel alone in her journey. Megan joined in hopes of helping raise money for AAGF by selling some of her craft goods. Her love of art and creating transformed itself into graphic design for Avery’s Angels. With self taught skills she now designs AAGF’s logo,  flyers, brochures, business cards, along with running and designing for Avery’s Angels online Cafepress shop. more…

 

Haley Odvody – Graphic Artist

Hi, I’m Haley! I’m a graphic artist with a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. I love to create beautiful, usable, professional designs but I also like a challenge and any chance to let my inner child take command. When my husband and I found out our baby boy, Jackson, would be born with gastroschisis we were shocked and devastated to say the least. I had never heard of such a thing and researched like my life depended on it. Then I came across Avery’s Angels and reached out for guidance. This foundation gave us the hope and knowledge we needed to arm ourselves with in order to bring our son into this world with a fighting chance. Because AAGF does such amazing work I jumped at the chance to give back in the best way I know how. more…

 

 

Lea Krutel – Director of Web Development

Lea came to join Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation after the unfortunate loss of her first child, Amara Belle, in 2009 due to complications arising from the birth defect when she was just three months old. During these difficult times, Lea’s father-in-law was searching the internet for emotional support and further information on gastroschisis, and came to find Meghan Hall through her blog. He introduced the two via email and they came to find that they had experienced very similar paths in regards to the birth and loss of their children within a very short time of each other. In 2010, Lea joined AAGF as a Volunteer Supporter, providing emotional support to expecting parents. Later, in 2014, Lea and her husband, Bryan Richter, took on the task of rebuilding the current website for AAGF to create the largest gastroschisis compilation available on the internet. more…

 

Avery’s Angels District Managers

District Managers are responsible for providing Hub Leaders with mentorship, organization and development. They help interview, train and place new leaders and volunteers, help localize efforts in states and grow the awareness and support efforts in their districts. These are senior Hub Leaders who have had tenure with our organization and know the complexities of gastroschisis, local government and support mechanisms and medical systems.

Jessica Deighan – South West District Manager (AZ) – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada

My name is Jessica Deighan. I’m a mommy to three amazing kids including one amazing superhero, wife to Andrew of 13 years, fixer of boo boo’s, rocket ship builder, princess clothing designer, educator and Southwest District Manager for Avery’s Angels. I have a Master;s degree in Secondary Education, dual bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education and am currently in my doctoral program for Psychology with an Emphasis in Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology. I work as a Developmental Specialist Instructionist for Arizona Early Intervention and work closely with Neonatal care teams to ensure a smooth transition from NICU to home. more…

 

 

Kailani Gadlin – Northeast New England District Manager (CT) – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland

I am Kailani Gadlin, Connecticut Hub Leader for AAGF. I am a very busy Banker, Girl Scout troop leader and most importantly wife and mother of 3 beautiful girls.  Our journey with Gastroschisis started 14 years ago when our oldest, Navaiah, was diagnosed at my level 2 ultrasound at 16 weeks pregnant.  She was born on 12/16/00 at 36 weeks at the UCONN Health center NICU, after spending 3 long months there we were transferred to CCMC (CT Children’s Medical Center) and after 4 more months of testing and more procedures than I can remember Navaiah was placed on the wait list for a transplant and got her blessing on Feb 3, 2002 at Mount Siani in NYC. Navaiah is now 13, a Cadette Girl Scout, getting ready for 8th grade and attends Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. She enjoys reading, arts and crafts, spending time with her sisters Gabby (9), Rebecca (6) and music. more…

 

Phebe Hovingh – North Central District Manager (MI) – Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin

My Gastroschisis story starts with my second son’s 14 week ultrasound. Like so many others I had never heard the word “Gastroschisis ” before that day, let alone knew what it was. The rest of my pregnancy was filled with appointments, research, and a whole lotta prayer. In 2008 (when we had our diagnosis) Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation didn’t exist. However the hospital I was to deliver at had a parent support program. I was so blessed to talk to and listed to another Gastroschisis mom. She was amazingly helpful. Her story helped carry me through so much. We are good friends to this day. We spent 6 months in the NICU, and 6 more under continued home care. He was given a clean bill of health at 2yrs and lives a super active life today.  more…

 

 

Brittany Isham  – West South Central District Manager (TX) – Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota

My name is Brittany Isham. I was 24 years old and 20 weeks pregnant with my second child, Savana, when she was diagnosed with gastroschisis. It was unexpected and I was not at all prepared to deal with my daughter having a birth defect, much less one I knew nothing about. So I began searching and found Avery’s Angels foundation who supplied me with so much support and information throughout our journey. Savana was born December 27th 2012 at 37 weeks along by induction at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. After all the research and preparation we had done, we were still stunned when Savana was born. She was 6lbs 6oz with only a detachment of her umbilical cord where her intestines and stomach were out. She had an immediate repair and spent 13 days in the NICU overcoming all expectations from her doctors. She was our strong miracle baby. more…

 

Tonya Miller  – South District Manager (KY) – Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas

My name is Tonya Miller.  I am married and a mother of an 10 yr. old gastroschisis princess. We live in Western Kentucky.  I first heard the word gastroschisis the night my daughter was born. We didn’t know until she was born that she had gastroschisis.  She was transported to Nashville, Tennessee. to the children’s hospital where she had a silo implemented and closure on the 4th day. She came home after a 41/2 weeks.  My family was the only support I had with the shock of my daughter being born with gastroschisis.  They were super but didn’t know any more than what I had read on the internet.  I want to make sure that no other family feels the way I did.  I want to bring awareness to my community and state. more…

 

 

Sarah Parker – East South Central District Manager (TN) – Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida

Sarah Parker’s son, Rowan, was born with Gastroschisis in June of 2009. He was born at 32 weeks and suffered a loss of 75% of his small intestines, leaving him with Short Bowel Syndrome. He spent 10 months at his local hospital, Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and then another 6 weeks at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in their Intestinal Rehabilitation Program. Rowan survived major bowel loss due to a jejunal atresia, had intestinal dumping, TPN induced cholestasis, liver issues, ostomy bags, gastrostomy tubes, central line issues, and many surgeries. Throughout their Gastroschisis journey, Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation and their Founder, Meghan Hall, was extremely influential and helped guide the Parkers with support and understanding with such a complicated birth defect. more…

 

Liz Tuck – Mountain Region District Manager (CO) – Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon

My name is Elizabeth “Liz” Tuck living on the Western Slope of Colorado on our small farm living life post military. Our gastroschisis journey began May 13, 2015.  After three very normal pregnancies, we decided our fourth (a rainbow baby) would be born at home with a skilled midwife team. I had one ultrasound early that didn’t catch the gastroschisis.  When Silas was born into my own arms, we had a complete surprise!  He had his small and large intestines, stomach and liver born outside but still managed full closure at 7 hours old with no organ damage.  He spent 22 days at the NICU.  Silas had a second surgery at three months old for an umbilical hernia repair.  We have been extremely blessed!  I did not find Avery’s Angels until after we were home.  I instantly knew I wanted to be involved to the max!  I want to give the support I didn’t know even existed. more…

 

Beth Wallace – South Atlantic District Manager (VA) – West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina

Our story began at 15 weeks with the voluntary quad screening test. I took the test and in just a couple of days I received a call to discuss the results. All I remember was “don’t worry there are a lot of false positives”. Unfortunately, that was not my case. Two weeks later I was told that my daughter would be born with an abdominal wall defect known as Gastroschisis. I cried, felt like for hours or days. I felt drained, I began to get depressed. I would lock myself in my daughters room and just cry until no more tears would come out. This is when I went through my pamphlets I was given and found Avery’s Angels. I decided to reach out. You have never felt a more gentle love than what Avery’s Angels has to offer. I didn’t want support anymore. I wanted to do more, so I signed on as a HUB Leader. I had so much support for the rest of my pregnancy that the only word I could use for it is… magical. more…