Volunteers helping infants born addicted to drugs

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A precious newborn is probably not the first image that comes to mind when you think about the opioid epidemic that’s gripping central Indiana. But more and more babies are being born addicted, suffering from withdrawal as soon as they enter the world.

For these infants, going through these withdrawals is like having the flu, but so much worse. Courtney Wolf, a nurse in the special care nursery at Community Hospital East, says it can last hours, days, even months.

The number of newborns born addicted to opioids in the U.S. is up 400 percent since 2000, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These are helpless human beings that need love and attention to get through some of the hardest days of their lives,” said Wolf.

That is why volunteers are becoming increasingly critical. They’re needed to pick up and simply cuddle our tiniest Hoosiers when the nurses have to care for other critical babies, or when mothers are unable to comfort their little ones.

FOX59 met a mom when her new daughter Izzy was just a 1-month-old. The mother was just 17 days clean and hopeful about a new life for her and her daughter.

Little Izzy started showing signs of withdrawal within 24 hours after she was born. But thanks to the team at Community East, Izzy is making progress, gaining weight and getting healthier every day. Her first month of life was a painful struggle, but because of volunteers, it’s filled with love and as much comfort as possible.

“I can't be there 24/7 to rock her and hold her and love her and cuddle her so knowing here is someone here doing it for me is pretty amazing. It's kind of awesome,” said Izzy’s mother.

Community East isn’t just caring for its tiniest patients. They're also caring for, supporting and educating families about the effects of drugs before, during and after their baby's birth.

Community East is putting out the call along with other hospitals who need volunteers to simply rock and cuddle these babies to help ease the pain of withdrawal. It’s a way anyone can help fight this epidemic even if you don't know someone personally who's affected by drugs or if you don't have extra money to donate.

For more information on how to volunteer, contact a hospital near you or contact Community Health.