Go Jim Go: Penny and Lydia Chu Patient Stories

(Memphis) 19-month-old Penny and Lydia Chu are twin sisters.

You can tell they’re already music lovers, especially when their dad, Jonathan, a violinist with the group skillet, gives an impromptu home concert.

“When they’re out and about I play for them. They sit up and watch and listen and that makes my heart happy,” Jonathan Chu said.      

Their mom, Bethany, says Penny and Lydia have two very different personalities.

“They are complete opposites, but both little hams in their own way,” Bethany Chu said.      

But that wasn’t always the case. Penny and Lydia were prematurely born.

To complicate matters, Penny had an uneven division of the placenta.

“Her umbilical chord didn’t have what she needed in it. She wasn’t growing at the same rate,” Bethany Chu said.       

Doctors, where the girls were born, weren’t sure if Penny would survive and her health put Lydia’s life in danger.

“Mutliple doctors told us that the best plan would be to end Penny’s life to choose selective reduction to save Lydia,” Jonathan Chu said.    

But that wasn’t an option.

“My gut reaction was absolutely not. I am not killing my child, but as looked at the situation could we have lost both girls?,” Bethany Chu said.

Family and friends recommended they take the twins to Le Bonheur.

“Penny needed to go to the hospital and the place to be was Le Bonheur and we have a great hospital in town,” Jonathan Chu said.    

Lydia was treated for a few problems and she was able to come home after a couple of months, but Penny had several health issues ranging from chronic lung disease, hypertension, and the need for several heart surgeries.    

Dr. Joi Goodwin-Samson is neonatologist at Le Bonheur and Penny’s doctor. “She had several different diagnoses, which eventually can be tough to survive, but putting multiple problems together, she had a tough battle,” Goodwin-Samson said.                         

For several month’s Penny’s battle kept her in Le Bonheur’s neo-natal intensive care unit, then it’s pediatric intensive care unit and eventually the intermediate care unit.              

The Chu family says their faith and Le Bonheur’s specialized care and staff support pulled Penny through.

“Le Bonheur’s Chaplin would come by and the social worker would check on us, patient care coordinator and nurses would drop in to say how is Penny?” Bethany Chu said.      

Months later Penny became stronger and was growing. Doctors finally allowed her to come home for good after she received a trach and a ventilator to help her breath.

“Her body was able to focus on being a little girl and not just surviving she started to gain weight, started to be more alert and sit up and play,” Bethany Chu said. 

“They have more energy to interact and smile and develop their little personalities and that’s the case with Penny. She was definitely a feisty little girl beforehand, but once she the trach, she’s the boss(laughter),” Goodwin-Samson said.    

The Chu’s call their daughters’ recovery amazing all because of the doctors and nurses committed to the excellent care they received at Le Bonheur.

“The miracles happen everyday at Le Bonheur are definitely because the doctors and nurses are instruments of what the Lord plans to do,” Bethany Chu said.