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The loss of a child is a devastating experience for parents and families and presents challenges that few of us can imagine. Often nurses have the privilege of bearing witness to this private suffering as families forge forward with lives dramatically changed by the loss of their child.
The Precious Prints project was developed in order to comfort grieving families who have suffered the loss of their child by providing them a sterling silver pendant bearing the fingerprint of their child.
The project was developed and initiated at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing in partnership with Precious Metal Prints, a local business. It was launched at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) in January 2012, and has expanded to include Parkwest Hospital, University of Tennessee Medical Center, Physicians Regional (Tennova), Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, and Blount Memorial Hospital.
Since that time, through the Student Nurses Association funding efforts and project management, more than 500 families have received a tangible linking remembrance of a child’s life that ended all too soon.
A Note from a Mom
I wear it around my neck. I see you staring at it with looks of confusion at first and then the looking away. I know it must be hard to see. After taking a good look, you realize that I am wearing my baby’s thumbprint. You remember that he is gone. To me, my necklace is the most precious gift in the world. I stare at it sometimes, and I can almost feel his little body in the cradle of my hands again.
My words could never do justice to the gratitude I feel towards the people that brought this project to life and strive every day to reach more families through such a heartbreaking time. This project spreads hope and joy, and I am so thankful to be a tiny part of it by proudly wearing my son’s thumbprint around my neck. To those that help make Precious Prints possible, I extend my deepest gratitude. Thank you for helping me hold on to the missing piece of my heart.
A Note from a Student
The Precious Prints Project highlights the art of nursing. The caring, supportive, family-centered component of nursing is a piece that is not easily taught in a book or a classroom. It is a way for our student nurses to invest in families and honor those patients whose lives ended too soon. We have seen through the years how a silver fingerprint charm can provide a tangible remembrance of a life and calm a mother’s heart. Seeing a mother touch her charm when she remembers her baby and hearing stories of the sweet time they spent together, even though it was short, has made this “project” turn into a “passion” for me. I feel proud to be part of a university who trains up future nurses with knowledge, and sends them out with passion.
Philanthropy Chair, College of Nursing SNA
The University of Tennessee
Class of 2015
A Note from a Nurse
Recently, we had 3 deaths all in one unit all within a week of each other. As their supplies were depleted, a nurse ran downstairs from that unit to grab more kits from me. Even in her moment of stress & grief, she stopped to say that making prints was the one thing she felt like she could do to comfort both the child’s family as well as the nurses on the unit. She reiterated several times during our brief conversation how much it means to all of us that this project has been able to continue. I can never thank you enough for your persistence to keep the Precious Prints Project running smoothly. I am also extremely grateful for all the students who balance both school & being a part of this incredible project. They are the future nurse leaders of our world, and are all the type of people I would hope to have taking care of me or my family.
- Journal of Maternal-Child Nursing
- Journal of Professional Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing – Niederhauser, V. P., Barnes, L., Chyka, D., Miller, L., Mixer, S., Medford, L., Gaylord, N. (2016). Better together: A win-win pediatric academic practice partnership. Pediatric Nursing ((42)4, 175-179.
For more information, contact Lynne Miller at email@example.com.