In 2011, Elizabeth and Seth McCoin were looking forward to the end-of-the-year birth of their first children, a twin boy and girl. But on September 7, at St. Vincent’s Birmingham, Houston and Morgan McCoin were born three months prematurely—older sister Morgan at one pound, five ounces, and Houston at two pounds, one ounce. Houston lived only four days. As tiny as he was, his features were distinct. “He looked just like me,” Seth says.
A month later, fragile Morgan was transferred to the UAB Women & Infants Center, where she soon underwent surgery. To keep family and friends updated, Seth and Elizabeth started a blog, Our Miracle Morgan. The blog started attracting readers the McCoins knew, plus many others around the world. “People wrote letters, saying they were touched,” Elizabeth says.
“We were told that our babies’ story was inspiring and changing people, giving them hope,” Seth adds. Blog readers followed the journey of Morgan and her caretakers, including nurses in the UAB Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Those nurses gave her impeccable care,” Elizabeth says. “They also loved her, played with her.”
It seemed Morgan’s journey was gaining ground, headed toward her going home from the hospital. But, on June 5, at age nine months and weighing more than 10 pounds, Morgan died unexpectedly. Doctors said her struggle had been too much for her heart. “The night she died, nurses came to be with us in the NICU, including those not on duty,” Elizabeth says. “They wanted to hold Morgan.”
To honor their twins’ memories and the nurses who cared for them, Elizabeth and Seth have joined efforts with the Junior Board of Visitors in the School of Nursing to endow a pediatric nursing scholarship. Elizabeth and her sister, Augusta, are members of the JBOV, which hosts a fund-raiser every year called the No-Show Ball. Last year’s ball raised $107,000 to benefit the scholarship.
“I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Elizabeth and Seth McCoin this past year,” says Doreen C. Harper, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, “and I have been continually inspired by their grace and perseverance during this sad time in their lives. With the help of the Junior Board of Visitors and the Birmingham community, this tragedy has become a legacy that will serve others for generations to come. The Seth Houston McCoin Jr. and Elizabeth Morgan McCoin Endowed Scholarship in Pediatric Nursing will provide educational opportunities to pediatric nurses pursuing advanced education, just like the ones who cared for their precious twin babies.”
“Our kids didn’t have a chance to live long lives,” Seth says, “but through this scholarship, they can continue to make a difference.” And, Elizabeth adds, “they won’t be forgotten.”