The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center and BPU Investment Management Inc. will be honoring Dr. Barbara Zawadzki at ART from the HeART: Celebrating 125 Years of The Children’s Home!
Board member Barbara Zawadzki’s journey with The Children’s Home started over 25 years ago. In 1988, Her daughter, Sarah, was born at 23 weeks. Weighing only 1.5 lbs., new parents Barbara Zawadzki and Jerome Itzkoff would essentially live in a hospital for 4 months before coming to The Children’s Home.
“You question your ability to take care of a medically-fragile child at first… coming to The Children’s Home made us feel we could, it gave us the confidence,” Barbara explained. For months, she would spend every day by her daughter’s side in the hospital – her husband, Jerome, would work full shifts as a cardiologist, leaving one hospital as a physician to return to another as a father.
With multiple complications Sarah would drop to only 1 lb. before she began to gain weight – born at 23 weeks in 1988. Her contentious start into the world would inspire her name, taken from the Doris Day song “Que sera, Que sera” (whatever will be, will be).
“Coming to The Children’s Home was one of the first decisions we had to make about Sarah as a family. The difference there however was night and day. They taught us how to take care of her, like how to safely give her a bath, in a comfortable environment.” Barbara said.
Only 5 years before, Transitional Infant Care was created out of an innovative idea to provide a sub-acute, homelike setting for infants, where parents could actively learn to care for their medically-fragile child. Without the noise and alarms, it was a place where Barbara’s whole family could heal together.
Nearly thirty years later, Dr. Barbara Zawadzki is ready to celebrate a quarter of a century of service to The Children’s Home. Bringing her unique perspective as both a physician and mother to a medically-fragile child, she has been an advocate and guide for the organization, overseeing the growth of The Children’s Home to what it is today. Her daughter, Sarah Itzkoff, is now 28. While complications from her prematurity means she is legally blind, that has not stopped her from attaining a degree in literature, and a masters in social work from Columbia University. Sarah has begun law school at the University of Pittsburgh, and like her mother is interested in becoming an advocate for those with special needs.