For the first three months of his life, Knox Palmer spent most days cradled in the arms of his mother, Elisha. But in December of last year, he was tragically taken from this world far too soon, becoming one of the 3,500 infants who pass away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the U.S. every year.
Elisha says she didn’t know what to do with her arms, as they were now suddenly empty. But although her pain seemed unbearable, she and her husband soon decided to channel their grief by working to prevent other families from losing their children in the same way.
“Very soon after we lost Knox, my husband and I knew that we had to do something to try to prevent other families from feeling this pain,” Elisha tells Babble. She and her husband had previously heard of a device called Owlet, but hadn’t purchased one for Knox. Rather than be consumed with regret, the Palmers decided to help others by ensuring that as many families as possible had an Owlet in their home.
According to founder Kurt Workman, the “Owlet is a baby monitor that isn’t just passive, it’s proactive. We give parents information that changes their ability to act for their baby in the home.”
Kurt goes on to explain:
“Our product is a wearable health monitor that is designed to give parents timely information about their little one. The Owlet Baby Monitor uses the same technology used in the medical field — pulse oximetry (many know it as the little red light they clip on your finger at the doctor’s office) — to track heart rate and oxygen. We’ve miniaturized that technology into a Smart Sock that a baby wears while sleeping, tracking their heart rate and oxygen, designed to notify their parents via a Base Station and their smartphone if those levels fall outside of the preset zones. Parents can view their little one’s heart rate and oxygen levels right from their phone, whether they’re down the hall, across town or around the world.”
However, Kurt does add that it’s important for families to know what the Owlet truly does:
“We do want to share that because the cause of SIDS is unknown, Owlet cannot and does not claim to prevent it,” he shares. “Owlet is intended to provide peace of mind and give parents unparalleled insights into their little one’s health and wellbeing by tracking heart rate and oxygen while sleeping.”
Still, Elisha believes that an Owlet could very well have saved her son’s life. “We feel if we had one on Knox and we were alerted when he stopped breathing there is a very good chance we wouldn’t have a story to tell today,” she tells Babble. “We could have started CPR immediately.”
And that’s precisely how Knox Blocks — a foundation that accepts donations and helps families purchase an Owlet — was born.
“We understand that $300 is a lot of money for some families with a newborn baby,” says Elisha. “That’s where we want to help. The families that cannot afford one are the families that we provide to.”
The foundation only began three short months ago, and yet it’s taken off in a way Elisha never expected.
“We have reached 100 families in 22 different states and Canada, as well. Not only do we provide to infants that are born with heart problems, premature, respiratory issues — we also provide to healthy babies like Knox. We donate to mothers that deal with postpartum and high anxiety. Every story we receive is so different.”
Elisha says that providing Owlets to other families has helped her heal.
“Losing Knox has left us broken and with such an empty feeling, our baby is missing,” she shares. “When we get to give families a little peace of mind and a little piece of Knox, we can feel how grateful they are and how much we are helping. It slowly is beginning to fill that void and pick up those broken pieces. Knox is living on through so many and touching so many lives. We know he watches over every Knox Blocks baby.”
But here’s the most heartwarming part of all: After learning of the Palmer’s efforts, the team at Owlet was so touched that the company ultimately promised to match whatever Knox Blocks raises dollar-for-dollar — to date, they’ve given away 100 monitors to families in need.
Interested families can apply for an Owlet at knoxblocks.org or via their Facebook page, Knox Blox.