"I will do whatever I can to help." Braedon's Riley Story


I work on the Riley Hospital campus as the Administrative Research Coordinator for the Wells Center Program in Diabetes Research. I am also a Riley parent. I have decided to give to Riley through the Heart of Riley Employee Giving Program because I know that Riley is an amazing place that saves the lives of children daily. Riley means everything to me and my family.  I truly believe that if it weren’t for Riley, I wouldn’t have my son Braedon today. 


Braedon was born at 28 weeks’ gestation (12 weeks premature). He weighed only 2 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 14 inches long. He was the donor twin of a condition call Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) which can only happen with identical twins. This syndrome is created when the stronger twin begins to take all the nutrients and blood flow from the placenta and then the weaker twin is deprived of these things. His twin, Gavin, perished in utero eight days before Braedon was born. Once we learned about Gavin’s passing, I was admitted into the hospital for monitoring. Eight days later, Braedon’s heart began to slow and then stop. He was delivered via emergency C-section and rushed to Riley Hospital. He needed three blood transfusions in his first 24 hours to save his life. 

During the next 11 weeks, Braedon developed many severe and life-threatening complications, including severe jaundice, dangerously low platelet counts and fungal sepsis, a severe fungal infection in his intestines. During his stay, he had several more blood transfusions, days upon days of platelet infusions, too many antibiotics to count and X-rays every hour for four days. He had surgeries to place central lines into his chest because his veins were beginning to collapse. Braedon also had double hernia surgery and laser eye surgery to save his eyesight, since he had developed Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a condition where the retinas of the eyes begin to detach.


During this battle for his life, the doctors and nurses at Riley took amazing care of not only Braedon, but my entire family as well. They were always there to answer questions, listen to us and give us a shoulder to cry on when we needed it. Most importantly, they never let us give up hope.

Today Braedon is a happy, caring, and healthy 11-year-old, thanks to the doctors and nurses at Riley Hospital!


It makes my heart happy to see my others contribute to Riley. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has already donated. If you haven’t donated yet, I urge you to consider doing so. I know money is tight for everyone right now. I am a single mom of three children so I understand the tight budget. However, every single dollar helps. If you are lucky enough to not have dealt with having your own child treated at Riley, you know someone who is a Riley kid. Every sick child deserves the chance to be healthy and happy like my Braedon!

I owe my child’s life to Riley. It’s something I can never repay, but I will do whatever I can to help.

If my giving to Riley means a life is saved, then how can I not give?

Shari Upchurch, Riley Parent and Wells Center for Pediatric Research Employee

Shari is the Administrative Research Coordinator for the Wells Center Program in Diabetes Research, and a single mom of three children, 15-year-old Hannah, 11-year-old Braedon and 6-year-old Jonah. The entire family enjoys helping Riley Hospital, where Braedon was treated, by sharing their story at 10-15 Riley Dance Marathons at various high schools and colleges across Indiana each year. Hannah also started the first annual Riley Dance Marathon at Whiteland High School last year as a freshman. They raised over $7,000 for Riley in the the first year, and over $12,000 this past March.

comments powered by Disqus

Browse More Blog Posts

View Blog Posts by Category
Sign up for Riley Blog Emails