Meet a N.S. girl who celebrates birthdays by donating to her local hospital

Click to play video: 'Dani’s Donations'
Dani’s Donations
Global’s Eilish Bonang speaks with the MacInnis family from Nova Scotia, who’s six -year old daughter Dani has made a tradition of donating her birthday money to the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow where she spent the first few weeks of her life! – May 23, 2023

A little girl in Nova Scotia is giving back to her community in a big way.

Each year for her birthday, six-year-old Dani MacInnis makes a donation to the women and children’s unit at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow, where she spent the first few weeks of her life.

“It just makes me feel really happy,” Dani said during an appearance on Global News Morning Tuesday.

Dani’s mother, Meghan, told Global’s Eilish Bonang that Dani was born a month early. She had high bilirubin levels, which made her “really sleepy” and caused problems with breastfeeding.

Babies with high bilirubin levels, also known as jaundice, often undergo light therapy. As an infant, Dani was placed under lights at the hospital, but Meghan said she wanted a way to feed her daughter at the same time.

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“We were thinking it would be nice if you could do both – if you could breastfeed while also having her under the lights that can lower her bilirubin level,” said Meghan.

Babies with high bilirubin levels are often treated with light therapy. Submitted by Meghan MacInnis

Meghan’s mother, Debbie Walsh, ended up launching a fundraiser to purchase the Aberdeen Hospital a Biliblanket, which is a portable device that allows parents to cuddle and feed their babies while they receive light therapy.

While Dani didn’t benefit from the blanket herself, thanks to her grandmother’s efforts, the hospital was able to get one in 2019.

Grateful for the care her daughter received as an infant, Meghan said that inspired the family to continue giving back.

“That started the idea of, how can we give back to the Aberdeen Hospital, and kind of help them in the way that they’ve helped us?” she said.

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Ever since her second birthday, Dani and her family have raised more than $1,700 for the hospital.

“Her birthday’s close to Christmas, so instead of getting lots of gifts, we thought it would be nice to do a donation, especially during such a charitable month,” said Meghan.

Six-year-old Dani MacInnis celebrates her birthday each year by donating to the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow. Submitted by Meghan MacInnis

She said as Dani gets older, she’s been given a choice of whether she wants to donate or not. “She always chooses the donations,” said Meghan.

“I’m just proud, proud that she’s setting a good example,” added Jake, Dani’s father. “Proud of my girl.”

Dani usually starts collecting donations in November from family, friends, classmates and teachers. Last year was her biggest fundraiser to date, raising more than $700 for the hospital.

“I like to donate money to them because it helps them … they can buy things if they don’t have them,” she said.

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‘Already such a role model’

In a statement, Michelle Ferris, the executive director of the Aberdeen Health Foundation, said Dani’s donations go toward anything the women and children’s unit needs.

In recent years, the money has gone toward skin-to-skin bandeaus, new bassinets, sleeping chairs for family, and fetal dopplers – an ultrasound to hear the fetal heartbeat.

“Honestly, whenever I think of someone so young turning their birthday (and the opportunity for presents) into a fundraiser for others, it makes my heart grow two sizes,” Ferris said.

“It’s rather humbling to see someone so young get so excited about giving (as opposed to receiving) — she’s already such a role model. We couldn’t be more thankful to Dani and her family, who have made giving back so central to their lives.”

Ferris added that the foundation was grateful for the Biliblanket they were able to purchase thanks to Dani’s grandmother.

“Giving back definitely runs in the family!” she said.

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