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Two-Year-Old Harper Gifford to Celebrate "Home Run For Life"

Stay in INTEGRIS Children’s NICU provide life-saving care and developed long-lasting friendships for Gifford family
June 10, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health continue the “Home Run For Life” series Saturday by honoring two-year-old Harper Gifford, of Elk City, Okla., during the Dodgers’ 7:05 p.m. game against the El Paso Chihuahuas at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Born at just 24 weeks and weighing barely

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health continue the “Home Run For Life” series Saturday by honoring two-year-old Harper Gifford, of Elk City, Okla., during the Dodgers’ 7:05 p.m. game against the El Paso Chihuahuas at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Born at just 24 weeks and weighing barely more than one pound, Gifford spent 98 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at INTEGRIS Children’s before going home in late October 2018. Gifford is now approaching her third birthday and the family is doing well thanks to the care she received at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center and the friendships her parents Gabbi and Sirandon Gifford formed with INTEGRIS Health staff during their challenging times there.

“We love letting them know how much they have impacted us and still continue to do so,” Gabbi Gifford said.

“Home Run For Life” recognizes individuals in the Oklahoma City community who have overcome a significant medical event with the help of their families, physicians and health care professionals. To symbolize the end of their battle against adversity, honorees take a prerecorded home run “lap” around the bases during an in-game ceremony.

“’Home Run For Life’ allows us to uniquely recognize some amazing Oklahomans who have endured significant health challenges,” OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “Each month during the baseball season, we are proud to partner with INTEGRIS Health to honor the perseverance and courage displayed by these individuals and to help inspire others with their incredible stories.”

Gabbi Gifford, now 28, was pregnant with twins in 2018 when her water broke for one of the twins unexpectedly at just 14 weeks of pregnancy. Four weeks later, she was put on bed rest, learning the devastating news that one of her twins would likely not survive the pregnancy. Six weeks later she was admitted to the hospital, and after going into labor the next day, she underwent an emergency C-section and her twins were born July 18, 2018 — at 24 weeks gestation — long before their expected Nov. 7 due date.

Each of the twins weighed barely more than one pound at birth, with Eliana Rose being born about two minutes before her sister Harper.

Both twins went to the INTEGRIS NICU. Eliana Rose sadly passed away less than 24 hours later and as the family grieved the loss of one daughter, Harper continued her fight. She fell ill with a lung infection and was on a ventilator, then an oscillator to help her breathe. She overcame the infection and then her next battle was trying to ween off oxygen.

The Giffords lived in El Reno at the time and would make multiple trips a day to INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, driving the 30-45 minutes each way to be with their daughter.

“It was a lot of late nights; a lot of early mornings,” Gabbi Gifford said.

While there, the family built long-lasting relationships with the INTEGRIS Health staff — from nurses and doctors to respiratory therapists, from the desk staff to a hospital photographer and a janitor.

“The overall staff helped us with anything we needed, especially the tough times that we had just going through all the process,” Sirandon Gifford, now 25, said. “We could not have done it without their team…They did a terrific job helping us with everything that we needed. It was a very tough time and they were there with us through all the process.”

Harper eventually was able to go home with oxygen and to celebrate the momentous occasion, the Giffords purchased a tiny cap and gown from Build-A-Bear for their daughter to wear and deemed that happy moment her graduation day.

“We even had a little diploma and wrote NICU on it and got her picture taken, so she was our little NICU graduate,” Gabbi Gifford said.

Harper remained on oxygen until about one month before her first birthday. Her battles since have been with keeping on weight and she was diagnosed last fall with mild cerebral palsy. She recently had a gastrostomy tube (G-Tube) put in with the goal of helping increase her weight. She wears leg braces and her schedule remains full, going to physical therapy and feeding therapy appointments each week.

Letters, Facebook messages and other correspondence keep the Giffords connected to their INTEGRIS Health family.

“They continue to keep up and love on us and continue to check on us,” Gabbi Gifford said. “They kept our daughter alive and we wouldn’t have had this opportunity to have her and watch her grow up if it weren’t for them because 24 weeks is no small feat at all to keep her alive. We’re super, super grateful for all the staff at INTEGRIS (Health).”

To read the full story of the Gifford family, visit the OKC Dodgers’ “Beyond the Bricks” website at: medium.com/beyond-the-bricks.

The OKC Dodgers open a six-game series tonight against the El Paso Chihuahuas at 7:05 p.m. at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The series continues through Tuesday, including a 7:05 p.m. game on a Fireworks Friday and 2:05 p.m. game Sunday for OKC’s first-ever Bark at the Park where fans can purchase a special ticket package to bring their dog to the game. The series wraps up at 7:05 p.m. on a $2 Tuesday, featuring $2 Pepsi products, bottled water and select beer.

Tickets can be purchased through okcdodgers.com/tickets. For general information or inquiries, please visit okcdodgers.com or call (405) 218-2182. Live radio coverage of each OKC Dodgers game begins 15 minutes before first pitch on AM 1340 "The Game," 1340thegame.com and through the free iHeartRadio or MiLB First Pitch apps. All OKC Dodgers games are also available streamed live on MiLB.TV with a subscription.