Emma and Ella Henry
Premature Birth


Even rising stars need a chance to begin and a lot of help along the way. Ella and Emma Henry, who play Mae Mobley Leefolt in the 2011 film The Help, did not come into this world as movie stars, but their first months were filled with drama. Born at less than 25 weeks, the twins spent their first three months at the Central Mississippi Medical Center’s (CMMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), fighting for their lives.

Even as their story was beginning, a new chapter was unfolding in the lives of Jackson couple Mark and Meredith Henry. They knew they wanted children but had not been able to have them. While considering adoption, a friend of Mark’s told him about the twins at CMMC’s NICU. As soon as Meredith laid eyes on the girls, she knew their prayers had been answered.

“God intended for us to raise these girls,” Meredith said. Although it was very touch and go at the time, she never doubted the twins would be going home with her and Mark.

Today, Ella and Emma are healthy four year olds who have made it to the silver screen and are as healthy as any child their age. They bear no ill effects from their early arrival and have needed no post natal surgeries or treatments from being premature—a miracle in itself!

But while at CMMC’s NICU their young lives depended on the skills of the hospital’s neonatal staff and the generous gifts of total strangers; like many premature babies, both girls required blood transfusions.

“[Blood donors] saved Ella and Emma’s lives, no question,” Meredith said. “Ella and Emma wouldn’t be here without them.”

Even before the advent of her twins, Meredith has known the importance of having a safe blood supply ready for hospital patients. Both of her parents are blood recipients.

“[My] dad needed blood when I was in high school and I couldn’t give because I was too young,” Meredith recalls. That changed when she started college and she and husband Mark have been blood donors ever since.

Meredith and Mark Henry know miracles happen: daughters Ella and Emma are living proof. Ella and Emma’s stories are far from over, but thanks to blood donors they can go on to happy endings and new beginnings. When you give, people live.

Categories: Patient Stories