Celebrating a Perpetual Thanksgiving

Karlee and Finlee Wisnefske are happy, healthy 4-year-olds enjoying life in Bear Creek with mom Jennie and dad Jason.

Thanksgiving has an even more special and personal meaning for the Wisnefske family in Bear Creek, Wisconsin. Mom Jennie tells us they have reason to be grateful every day!

On June 7, 2013, twin girls Karlee and Finlee Wisnefske were born premature at only 31 weeks. The babies weighed just over 3 pounds each. Finlee was healthy, but Karlee suffered from a condition known as necrotizing enterocolitis, known as NEC. 

NEC is the most common and serious intestinal disease among preemies. It happens when tissue in the small or large intestine is injured or begins to die off. This causes the intestine to become inflamed or, in rare cases, develop a hole (perforation). When this happens, the intestine can no longer hold waste, so bacteria and other waste products pass through the intestine and enter the baby's bloodstream or abdominal cavity. This can make a baby very sick, possibly causing a life-threatening infection.

Karlee was delivered at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley, but then was flown by ThedaStar and the NICU team to CHW-Milwaukee for more definitive care.  Her prognosis was poor, but with expert help, multiple surgeries, faith and family determination, Karlee had a miraculous recovery. She went home five and a half months later, right before Thanksgiving, to be reunited with Finlee. 

Jennie recalls “living” in Milwaukee to be at their daughter’s side constantly. In talking to her, you would think you were talking to a neonatal nurse because of the wealth of knowledge she has regarding this disease. She said, “Karlee was actually released early from the hospital to my care because the doctors and nurses were certain about my ability to provide all the care she needed initially.” Jennie now serves as a parent host volunteer for other families in similar situations.

Today, the Wisnefske twins are “normal” 4-year-olds, enjoying life in Bear creek. “They love playing outside and putting puzzles together,” says Jennie, who is a Bear Creek first responder and firefighter. Jason Wisnefske is a local machinist who supports Jennie’s love of EMS and is always ready to pitch in at home at a moment’s notice when his wife is called away. “We have so much to be grateful for!” they both said.