Heroes out of Heartache
In May of 2001, Shannon Bowen-Smed and Peter Smed
were excited to become parents. However, this happy time ended in
heartbreak when, in the seventh month of pregnancy, their baby
Scott arrived stillborn. Not only did Shannon have to deliver him
early, but there were no private rooms available where they could
grieve together as a family, away from the excitement and joy of
healthy babies on the maternity ward.
While the nurses did their best to shelter them, it was still an
incredibly heart wrenching experience for anyone to go through.
When they left the hospital, the couple were given a teddy bear in
memory of their son. They later found out it was the last teddy
bear available through the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program at the
But the Smeds took a traumatic experience and paved the way for
other families to have more comfort during such a difficult time.
In the weeks after their loss they bought teddy bears so other
families would not go home empty handed. They then created a golf
tournament in honour of Scott.
Through raising funds, the couple turned their tragedy around,
building delivery rooms for women and families who experience this
type of loss. "In many ways Lucy Pascal (the Pregnancy and Infant
Loss Program Manager at the Rockyview General Hospital at the time)
deserves a lot of credit for this - she had the vision of this
space," said Shannon Bowen-Smed. The rooms were designed to provide
continuous support, comforting surroundings and a more positive
experience for parents coping with their loss.
"It is an honour to see these rooms and know that we have made a
difference to the families who we will never know," she said.
Since 2002, the Smeds have committed more than $477,000 to
Calgary Health Trust for those families who will unfortunately face
the same loss as they did. These funds have been used to create a
Scott Smed Room at each of the four hospitals in Calgary.
Anadditional four triage rooms for early gestational loss have also
been designated at South Health Campus (SHC)
These rooms are an integral part of the patient and family
centred care that the facility strives to provide. Early in the
planning of SHC staff worked with the Obstetrics and Gynecology
department to develop a concept to get these women and their
families out of the emergency department as soon as possible and
give them the privacy they need.
To do this the staff created an early gestational assessment
process. Now, if a woman experiencing a miscarriage comes into SHC,
she will only spend a few minutes in the emergency department
before being sent upstairs to a much quieter, private and
"We are the only hospital in Calgary, and maybe the only one in
Alberta, who has this space. From what we have heard from patients
is that they really do appreciate it," said Dr. Colin DelCastilho,
Medical Facility Director at South Health Campus.
The Smed family remains committed to continuing to support the
program. They are grateful for everything that staff at each of the
hospitals do and have done for people who, like them, have
experienced the heartbreak of pregnancy and infant loss.
"It's been 13 years to process his loss," said Peter Smed, "It's
been therapeutic for us and a real gift for us to have our son's
life be so meaningful. This experience is no longer filled with
sadness, just pride and gratitude for the opportunity. It feels
like we have come full circle."
There are more than 200 stillbirths and neonatal deaths, and
over 1800 documented miscarriages in the Calgary area every year.
The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program provides grief support,
teaching, and treatment for women, who have had an early
pregnancy loss. The Scott Smed Invitational will take place on
September 15, 2014 at the Cottonwood Golf & Country Club or you
can donate directly to the Pregnancy and Infant Loss