Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife have gifted the University of Iowa $1 million to help premature babies. 

Kirk and Mary Ferentz have committed $1 million to help University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital researchers in their work to improve survival rates for premature babies.

Their gift creates the Savvy Ferentz Program in Neonatal Research and will focus on improving patient care and outcomes for infants who are born prematurely.

Kirk and Mary made the gift in memory of their granddaughter, Savvy Elizabeth, who was born in August 2014 at 21 weeks and five days gestation.

“We knew Savvy was born too early. We also knew they do extraordinary things at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital that would give her a fighting chance. We were thankful we had that.” - Mary Ferentz

UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital’s survival rates for babies born at 24 and 25 weeks are significantly higher than survival rates for extremely premature babies born at other U.S. hospitals, placing Iowa among the top neonatal intensive care providers anywhere.

For the Ferentzes, this gift provides hope for future discoveries that will help babies like Savvy. “Iowa’s neonatologists are committed and are already leading the way for these little babies,” said Mary. “We so deeply admire and appreciate the people who gave us hope and helped our family so much. This is a way for us to help them help others.”

“The University of Iowa has long been a leader in neonatal research and in providing high-level patient care, particularly to this most vulnerable population. This gift from the Ferentzes will help us capitalize on our strengths, advance our research, and, most important, make an impact on the lives of many Iowa children and their families, now and far into the future. We are deeply grateful for their support.” - Jeffrey L. Segar, M.D., professor of pediatrics at University of Iowa Roy J and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and former director of the Division of Neonatology at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital

UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital is Iowa’s only comprehensive children’s hospital and boasts a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—the highest level recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In its 2017-2018 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital as one of the country’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” and ranked the neonatology program 20th in the nation.

University of Iowa Health Care is the state’s only comprehensive academic medical center, dedicated to providing world-class health care and health-related outreach services to all Iowans. Based in Iowa City, UI Health Care includes University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and University of Iowa Physicians, the state’s largest multi-specialty physician group practice.

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