Blog article hero background
Placeholder Image for Blog
Patient Stories

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

December 22, 2021

Giving birth to a baby boy during the COVID-19 pandemic was already a unique experience for Shelby Ness, but she received some devastating news just hours after her son Tucker’s birth.

“It was a scary moment,” said Ness. “Our little guy Tucker, he was 37 weeks when we had him here in Devils Lake. When he was about 27 hours old, they discovered that he had bilateral pneumonia. He was transferred to NICU in Grand Forks.”

As a surgical tech at the hospital in Devils Lake, Ness often worked with Altru’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“I saw how amazing they were,” Ness said. “I didn’t expect to be put into a situation where I ended up needing them for Tucker. It was a complete 180-degree turn. And our emotions were running wild.”

Tucker spent 12 days in the NICU recovering and building his strength. Ness and her boyfriend Ryan Lang, a member of the Devils Lake Fire Department, drove to Grand Forks each day to spend time with Tucker in the NICU. 

Tucker laying outside on a blanket with toys.

“All of the nurses were absolutely amazing,” Ness said. “I’d like to thank the OB Nurses (Roxanne and Elizabeth), Respiratory Therapy (Grant), Radiology (Cheryl) along with Dr. Candeleria Martin for helping get him transferred to the NICU. If it wasn't for them catching what was going on with him it could've been worse. The nurses made it easier to leave him a little bit at nighttime and just kept us updated on everything.”

Tucker’s birthday is October 28, just a few days before Halloween.

“He was dressed up as ‘The Flash’ for Halloween,” Ness said. “They got all these fun little crafts. For example, his feet were covered with socks that looked like ghosts. We got all these fun pictures sent to us when we couldn’t be there with him.”

Hayden posing by her lemonade stand.

​Giving Back to Altru NICU

Once Tucker was healed and home safely, his family discussed his time in the NICU. That is when his big sister Hayden came up with the idea for a Lemonade Stand to benefit Altru’s NICU.

“She randomly wanted to do a lemonade stand on Saturday night and she went with it on Sunday morning,” said Ness.

In a single day, Hayden managed to raise more than $600 with her Lemonade stand.

“I thought I would only raise $100,” Hayden said. But the family was grateful to everyone in the community who bought a sweet treat to help other babies in need.

“It was nice to see people throughout the community stop by with their NICU graduates,” Ness said.

Devils Lake Fire Department, Devils Lake Police Department, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, Lake Region Ambulance as well as Lunacy MC and Fire and Iron MC all donated to Hayden’s lemonade stand.

Happy and Healthy 

Shelby, Tucker, and Hayden posing outdoors.

At almost one-year-old, Tucker is doing well. He is still doing weekly physical therapy and occupational therapy but hopes to be done soon.

When his mom looks back on his birth and first days on earth, she remembers the care he received at Altru.

“It was a little bit of weight taken off your shoulders, because you knew that he was in a place that would love him as much as we did at home.”


Featured Articles

One Heart Screening, Two Stents | Altru

Patient Stories

One Heart Screening, Two Stents | Altru

September 28, 2023

Patient Stories

Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosis Improving Quality of Life

October 13, 2023
Taking Care of the Tweed Triplets | Altru

Patient Stories

Taking Care of the Tweed Triplets | Altru

March 1, 2023
Saving Lives One Donation at a Time | Wayne Burlog's Altruism Story

Patient Stories

Saving Lives One Donation at a Time | Wayne Burlog's Altruism Story

January 31, 2023
Two Heart Attacks in Two Days | How Altru Helped Save Jim Karley’s Life

Patient Stories

Two Heart Attacks in Two Days | How Altru Helped Save Jim Karley’s Life

February 2, 2023