09 Jan A Long Way From Home

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On the plus side, little Zoe Drake will have dual American-Irish citizenship. Still, her parents want to bring her home to Tennessee as soon as possible, and friends are pitching into help.

Update, Jan. 19: An anonymous donor has come forward to help fly Zoe home.

Zoe's story began last October when optometrist Dr. Jennifer Drake and her husband Gavin (the optical manager at her practice) were flying home after business in Scotland and a brief vacation in Paris. Although only 25 weeks pregnant, Jennifer started having contractions on the plane. The pilot made an emergency landing and Zoe Ireland Drake was born minutes after her mom arrived at Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.

INVISION contributor Carol Gilhawley alerted me to the Drakes' story last fall. I did a Google search today to see if they'd arrived home in Tennessee. That's when I learned via this report from NewsChannel5 in Nashville that not only are the Drakes still in Ireland, their insurance company denied their claim for a medical flight home for the baby. (The reason is she's getting good care in Ireland, where Jennifer, Gavin and their 3-year-old son are staying at a charitable house in Dublin designed to help parents who've had premature babies. The little boy arrived in November after being cared for by grandparents). As Chris Conte from the Nashville station reported on New Year's Eve:

"I could come home but I’d be leaving her here," Jenny says about the decision she's still not ready to make. Complicating the situation even further is Jenny's optometry practice in Murfreesboro, Drake Eyecare and Eyewear. For three months the office has been operating without Jenny, relying on the kindness of other doctors volunteering their time to see patients in order to stay afloat.

That's a tough situation for any small business. Meanwhile, friends of the family have set up a fundraising page to help defray the cost of the $67,000 medical flight. Read more about the Drakes here. And here's hoping the Drakes are able to make it home as soon as they get the help they need -- or when little Zoe is healthy enough to fly, which could be a few months from now.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 21:48
Julie Fanselow

Julie Fanselow is INVISION editor-in-chief. She has been wearing glasses since the fourth grade -- right about the same time she decided she wanted to be a journalist. Coincidence?