'Miracle Baby's' Story Energizes Efforts by UAW and FCA to Prevent Premature Birth

Apr 24, 2017

                           Loriana with mom and dad at home in her nursery.

By Ron Russell
NTC Communications

Loriana Ferrett entered the world weighing 1 pound 5 ounces; her father’s hand was bigger than her entire body. Even touching her tender, translucent skin caused her pain. And she needed a ventilator to breathe.

Doctors gave Loriana less than a 50 percent chance of surviving due to the devastating consequences of her premature birth.

“No one should ever see their child the way we did,” said her mother Sarah Ferrett. “I felt so helpless and I was in a nightmare just waiting to wake up. As a mother, you are supposed to protect your child from pain, and I had to look at my baby girl every day in so much pain and fighting for her life.”

Ferrett and her husband Allan, both FCA US LLC employees, recently relived the anguish, helplessness and uncertainty they felt when Loriana was born prematurely last year at 24 weeks. Making matters worse, the unthinkable happened without any warning signs of complications during Sarah’s pregnancy.

During a heartfelt presentation, Sarah shared the bittersweet story of her daughter’s prognosis at birth – and her miraculous recovery – at the kickoff for the 2017 March for Babies campaign conducted by the UAW and FCA US. Campaign co-captains from FCA plants in the Detroit area attended the meeting, held at the UAW-Chrysler World Class Manufacturing Academy (WCMA) in Warren, Mich.

UAW, FCA have supported March for Babies 26 years.
         UAW and FCA have supported March for Babies 26 years.

The Ferretts are an Ambassador Family that helps the Southeast Michigan March of Dimes heighten awareness of prematurity and raise money to support research into its causes, as well as to combat birth defects and infant mortality.

Continuing a 26-year partnership with the March of Dimes, the UAW and FCA are appealing to employees to support this spring’s March for Babies walkathons in Southeast Michigan and communities in other states where FCA has facilities.

The 2017 corporate campaign is co-chaired by UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, director of the union’s Chrysler Department, and Glenn Shagena, Head of Employee Relations, FCA – North America.

“The March of Dimes has long been a favorite charity of the UAW because of its commitment to giving all babies a healthy start in life,” said Miguel Foster, Co-Director of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, who represented Jewell at the kickoff.

“This cause is especially important to me because my youngest son was a premature baby. I went through agony – I was terrified about what happened to my son. It was a trying time for my family,” Foster recalled.

“I know first-hand the positive difference the March of Dimes makes for babies in this country.”

Now a healthy 7-year-old, Miguel Jr., shows no signs of his problematic start in life.

Shagena echoed Foster’s sentiments and stressed FCA’s long-standing commitment to helping the March of Dimes raise money to support the critical services it provides to the community.

“I can’t remember a time when we weren’t involved with the March for Babies,” Shagena said. “We’ve always had big hearts and given back to this great cause. It’s all about protecting babies who can’t protect themselves.”

Tiny Loriana in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
             Tiny Loriana in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

He decried the infant mortality rate in this country, calling it “almost shameful.” The U.S. ranks below 25 other developed countries when it comes to the rate of premature births and deaths of full-term babies.

Shagena and Jewell have challenged each FCA location around the country to participate in this year’s March for Babies walkathons and conduct fund-raising projects that typically range from bake or hot dog sales and bowl-a-thons to raffles, car shows and golf outings.

The 2017 corporate campaign got off to a promising start at the April 5 WCMA kickoff event. Participation by Sarah and Allan Ferrett resonated with the union and management co-captains from Detroit area facilities.

They were visibly moved by Sarah’s story about how daughter Loriana defied the odds to survive the effects of her premature birth on Sept. 7, 2016, at St. John’s Providence Hospital in Detroit.

“The moment your child is born is usually a moment of happiness; your room is full of people smiling, and there are tears of joy when you hear your baby cry for the first time in your arms,” said Sarah, Health and Safety Manager at the Center Line (Mich.) Parts Distribution Center.

“My moment was a little different. My room was filled with over 20 nurses and doctors, and my tears were of fear and sadness of not knowing if my baby was even alive.”

Shortly after delivery, Loriana was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to stabilize her condition. Throughout her stay in the NICU, Loriana was intubated for 68 days, recovered from pneumonia and a small brain bleed, received four blood transfusions and oxygen to help her breathe, and was fed through a tube.

Sarah Ferrett calls Loriana "happiest baby ever!"
Sarah Ferrett calls Loriana “happiest baby ever!”

Sarah recalled a turning point in the family’s ordeal that inspired hope for Loriana’s future. “On day 68 of being in the NICU, doctors told me I could hold my baby for the first time. I dreamt about this moment since the second I delivered her, and it was the most amazing feeling to finally have her in my arms.”

Another milestone occurred on Dec. 29, 2016, when Loriana was released from the hospital after 113 days. She had made a remarkable recovery, gaining enough weight to reach 6 pounds 5 ounces.

But the challenges continued for Sarah and Allan, Autonomous Activity Manager at the Sterling (Mich.) Stamping Plant, once Sarah got home. The regimen included getting her off oxygen and feeding her from a bottle instead of through a tube. Not to mention home hosting visits by occupational and physical therapists, in addition to keeping several doctors’ appointments a week.

All the tender loving care paid off. Now approaching 8 months old, Loriana “is doing absolutely amazing … and at this point has zero medical problems,” Sarah said. “She’s the happiest baby ever!”

Deep inside, Sarah is convinced that divine intervention helped to determine Loriana’s fate.

“Not many people can say they witnessed a miracle, but Allan and I know our baby is truly one,” she said. “Today I just look at her and can’t believe how she started her life. Usually you are your children’s hero, but Loriana is my hero.”

The Ferretts are eager to share the happy ending to their story, as well as the trials and tribulations required to win the battle against premature birth.

Their participation in this year’s March for Babies as an Ambassador Family includes involvement in the fund-raising campaign at Sterling Stamping, where Sarah previously worked.

“We are just one example of a story that many people have never heard,” Sarah said. “Together we can help the March of Dimes fight prematurity so more babies can beat the odds, and can get the strongest start possible in life.”


Photo above story: From left, UAW Coordinator Paul Caucci, Sarah Ferrett, Allan Ferrett and Glenn Shagena. Photo by Rodney Drewery. Page designed by Jonathan Powell.


To register for a March for Babies event that takes place near you, click on

2017 March for Babies sites in Southeast Michigan include Detroit, 8 a.m. April 29, DMC Brush Mall; Oakland County (formerly Troy), 10 a.m. April 30, Oakland University; Genesee County, 10 a.m. April 30, Bicentennial Park, Grand Blanc; Lake St. Clair Metropark, 10 a.m. April 30; Kensington Metropark, 10 a.m. May 7, Martindale Beach; Blue Water River, 10 a.m. May 7, St. Clair County Community College, Port Huron; Monroe, noon May 7, Monroe County Community College; Ann Arbor/Hudson Mills, 11 a.m. May 21, Hudson Mills Metropark.