Muralat hospital will honor memory of Melissa Coerts

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:59

    NEWTON-Melissa J. Coerts was born Jan. 31, 1988, at Newton Memorial Hospital and died at age 8- ½ years. She was the first patient to receive an unrelated umbilical cord blood transplant at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in NYC. Her death was a result of a virus, not from the leukemia she suffered from. In fact, Melissa had had a successful bone marrow transplant. During the months of Melissa’s illness, she received chemotherapy treatments at Morristown Memorial Hospital. There she was given the opportunity to paint on a piece of a larger canvas earmarked for the Pediatric Unit of M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Tx. The mural was a project of artist Arlene Sullivan, sister of Morristown Memorial Doctor David A. Bollard. The mural was subsequently autographed by former President George Bush and First Lady Barbara in memory of their daughter, Robin, who died at the age of 3 from leukemia. The Bushes liked the Anderson Hospital mural so much that they commissioned one to be displayed at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Me. Patricia Gold, Melissa’s mother, is a nurse in Newton Memorial Hospital’s emergency services department and has been involved in healthcare for 24 years. She contacted Arlene Sullivan with the idea of creating a mural in memory of Melissa to be displayed in the pediatric waiting room at Newton. Sullivan agreed and her rendering of the proposed mural was approved by Gold. When Gold first thought of the memorial mural for her daughter, she questioned whether she should continue with her idea. “I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but I knew that to my family, Melissa’s spirit continued to be with us.” Creation of the mural began Oct. 8 at Newton Memorial Hospital with a gathering of invited family and guests, including hospital physicians, managers, supervisors and coworkers and their families. Those families with small children will work on the mural under Sullivan’s guidance. Preschoolers will produce their own version of butterflies to be pasted on the windows. When the mural is completed it will be packaged and flown to Texas, where it will be autographed by George and Barbara Bush, who told Sullivan they will be honored to sign it. Gold and members of her family will travel to Texas to meet the Bushes and be present when the mural is signed and temporarily displayed in Texas. It is expected that the mural will return to its permanent home in the pediatric waiting room of Newton Memorial Hospital some time in January 2006.