On Friday, May 17, from 6 to 11 p.m. a pig pickin’, steamed shrimp and cold beer fundraiser will be held to benefit local firefighters Matt and Kristen Gajdos, whose twins were born in February, 14 weeks premature.
“Everything seemed to be going along OK, and then she went into premature labor,” said Dagsboro Fire Volunteer Fire Department Secretary Diane Carey of Kristen. “They took her to Salisbury. They stopped the contractions, but she was already dilated to the point where they needed to transfer her to Johns Hopkins for a C-section. They could no longer stop the delivery of the babies.”
Adley Paige and Beibhinn Lily Gajdos were born on Feb. 21, weighing 1 pound, 8 ounces, and 1 pound, 6 ounces, respectively. But on March 12, at only 19 days old, Beibhinn passed away due to multiple organ failure. However, Adley continues to fight.
“These poor things have been to hell and back again. They have been intubated, they have been chest tubed — you name it. At one point in time, they were both in separate hospitals in Baltimore and they were going back and forth — one would go into crisis mode and the other would do OK, and they’d be back and forth. I can’t imagine,” said Carey.
Of Adley, Carey said, “She’s breathing on her own. They’re going to try to try to reconnect her intestines again, but she had a large portion of her intestines becomes septic and had to be removed early on. She keeps hanging in there. She’s cute as a button.”
Friday’s fundraiser menu includes pulled pork, steamed shrimp, macaroni salad, baked beans, coleslaw, beer and more. There will also be live entertainment, as well as a silent auction and a live auction, with state Rep. John Atkins acting as auctioneer.
“The community support for donations has been wonderful. We’ve collected over $2,000 in cash, and we have fishing expeditions and free dinners and gift certificates, fishing poles. We have one of those metal carriers that you put on your truck to go on the beach,” said Carey.
“We’ve got lots and lots. We’ve got a camouflaged guitar from Ducks Unlimited. Anybody that we’ve asked has gratefully given us something. So we’re going to keep John Atkins busy.”
Tickets to the event cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Kristen and Matt Gadjos have been serving their community for more than 10 years in the local fire service, as firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. Currently, Matt Gadjos works at the Delaware State Fire School.
“With their service to the community, and with them being brothers and sisters of ours, we really wanted to step up and try to help them. The reason we’re holding the fundraiser is to try to help cover some of the medical bills. We’re just looking to do whatever we can to help them, support them,” said Carey, adding that she hopes to have at least 500 people attend. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
Of their almost three-month ordeal, Kristen Gadjos — who came back from Baltimore last week to attend a dine-and-donate event at Bethany Blues — said she and her husband are taking it “one day at a time.”
“We’re hanging in there, taking it one day at a time,” she said. “She’s doing better. She’s coming down off of septic shock,” she added of Adley. “Baby steps forward, that’s all we can ask for right now.”
Kristen said that Adley currently weighs 3 pounds, 8 ounces, and is “getting up there in weight.”
“The first time we got to hold her was on Easter. We do a lot of kangaroo care,” she said of the technique of holding a newborn — especially preemies — in skin-to-skin contact with an adult. “They say that she’s not going to be coming home until at least her due date which is June 11. She has another surgery to go through, and they won’t do that until she gets to be 3 kilos [about 6.6 pounds], so it could be anywhere from June up to September. We’re not sure at all yet.”
This was the Gajdos’ first pregnancy, and although they were expecting an early delivery, they were not expecting the twins to come as early as they did.
“They told me, with twins, that they were going to come early. We were expecting anywhere between 34 and 40 weeks, not 24 weeks. So, yes, but not this early.”
The family has relocated to Baltimore, to be closer to the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, with Kristen returning home rarely.
“Not because I can’t, but because I don’t want to. I don’t want to leave her up there when she’s still considered critical,” she said. “We’re staying nearby, in the Children’s House. It’s about a mile from the hospital.”
“Matt had to return to work to keep insurance and stuff for the family. He’s been back and forth between here and there every moment he can,” added Carey.
Kristen praised the staff at Johns Hopkins for their work and support.
“They have been absolutely phenomenal. Without them, Adley wouldn’t be here. I absolutely love them to death. She has a couple of primary nurses that we are so grateful for. They are honestly a godsend.”
Kristen said that the local community has been extremely generous to her and her family, and she cannot begin to express her gratitude.
“We’ve received a lot of well-wishes, cards — not just monetary contributions, although we’ve received those, too. It’s humbling to see the outpouring of support. ‘Thank you’ is our biggest thing. I don’t know how to tell people ‘thank you’ enough. There are no words to express how we feel, but ‘thank you.’”
Carey said that she hopes the community will turn out Friday night to support a local family in their time of need.
“We would like to have a very strong showing of support in the number of people coming out to support them,” said Carey. “We ask that the community get behind these two because they serve their community anytime the fire whistle blows or anytime somebody needs something, so it would be nice to see people, in turn, return that support.”
For more information, or to purchase tickets to the event, contact any Frankford or Dagsboro volunteer fire company member, or call Tommy Bacon at Station 76, at (302) 732-6662. To donate to the Gajdos family, visit http://www.gofundme.com/adley-and-beibhinn. To follow Adley’s journey online, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Prayers-for-Adley-and-Beibhinn.