Parents are pleading for a local hospital to reconsider its renovation plan that involves painting over a tribute to hundreds of babies, including those who passed away. The tradition started 19 years ago at Anderson Hospital in Maryville. At the end of each hospital visit, parents have had the opportunity to mark a wall with their newborn's footprint. For many families, it's an irreplaceable symbol.
Bethalto residents Matt and Amanda Schaefer went to Anderson Hospital for the birth of their twins.
"She was six pounds six ounces and he was six pounds five ounces," Matt said.
Their baby girl, Harper, came first. Then came Dakota, their boy.
"About ten minutes after birth, our son went into cardiac arrest," Matt said.
Dakota was only 30 hours old when he died.
"That was the worst day of my entire life," Amanda said.
They found some comfort in the hospital's footprint wall.
"The day you leave the hospital is the day you do the footprint," Amanda said.
Girls left their footprints in pink, while boys left their footprints in blue. There were also angel stamps available for babies like Dakota.
"The way we positioned it was like Dakota was watching over Harper forever," Amanda said.
Anderson Hospital stopped adding footprints and stamps to the wall in January this year in preparation for renovating the building. Next year, crews will paint over the entire wall. The hospital says it's not only for aesthetics but also for wear and tear of high-traffic corridors.
"Heartbroken," the Schaefers said. "Yeah, heartbroken."
They aren't alone. Many parents are asking the hospital to reconsider.
"Contact all the parents, all the people that are on the wall to get their say," Amanda said. "That's what I honestly think should be done."
The hospital plans to take photographs of the wall and share the album online.