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A New Chapter for The Bowens in 2020

It is truly amazing to step back and think about how much all our lives have changed since March. Like many of you, we’ve had a lot of beautiful family moments mixed with plenty of not-so-beautiful ones during this global pandemic. We’ve been stretched and pulled to capacity, trying to adjust and make decisions that will keep our kids – including our youngest who is a two-year-old heart transplant survivor - both safe and sane. It is a seemingly impossible line to walk and the goalposts keep moving. But to me the silver lining of 2020 is that it’s forcing all of us to step back and figure out what’s important. 

For our family, that included two life-changing decisions. 

1. We moved to a farm in Vermont for flu season so our three oldest kids could attend a small, Catholic school in-person.

Jack, Kendal and Scarlett loving Catholic school life in Vermont!

Jack, Kendal and Scarlett loving Catholic school life in Vermont!

2. My husband Ryan and I quit our day jobs to start a medical supply company. That company - GCB Medical Supply - is now supporting our highest mission as a family which is to improve the quality and longevity of heart transplant recipients and patients facing end-stage heart failure. 

Back in April, I was asked a simple question at the end of a phone call with Dave Walsh, who is head of the supply chain at Boston Children’s Hospital. We had just gone over some final details on the first shipment of The Georgie.

The Georgie is a patent pending pediatric gown we developed with Georgia’s medical team at Boston Children’s Hospital

The Georgie is a patent pending pediatric gown we developed with Georgia’s medical team at Boston Children’s Hospital

I remember feeling really excited that everything was finally coming together and then right before we hung up Dave said, “Oh by the way, you don’t happen to have access to any procedural loop masks do you? I could use about a million.”

…. 

After a pause, for some reason I said yes...let me get back to you. I then hung up the phone and my excitement about The Georgie quickly evaporated into full panic about how I was going to come up with one million procedural loop masks out of thin air. In looking back, I think the only thing I realized in that moment was how dire the PPE shortage must have been. And if the hospital that saved my daughter’s life was asking me for help, then I was going to do everything in my power to get them what they needed.

So I stayed up all night for about two straight weeks trying to get the dots to connect. Eventually a swimwear factory in Asia that I had a relationship with through Petit Peony said they could help us. A few weeks after that conversation with Dave Walsh, we managed to deliver one million procedural loop masks to Boston Children’s Hospital. It felt like a major win, but at that point my eyes had been fully opened to how catastrophically broken our country’s PPE supply chain was. 

After that initial order, Dave asked if I could help him find additional products. Things started to fall in place, and here we are seven months later. I’m so proud of the INCREDIBLE team we’ve built at GCB Medical that is now allowing us to source more than a dozen critical PPE products to 150 health systems and hospitals throughout the U.S.

To be perfectly honest, at times this is all still kind of hard for me to process. As a little girl I certainly never dreamed of owning a PPE supply company during a global pandemic. But in the end, this all comes back to Georgia. 

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For the last two and a half years, I’ve witnessed her unwavering perseverance to beat every odd. Georgia has paved the way for change and innovation since the day she was born and she’s given our family strength to know that absolutely anything we put our minds to is achievable. In addition to igniting groundbreaking heart transplant research and inspiring innovation in pediatric products, her fight is now helping spark a revolution in the medical supply industry.  

As I mentioned earlier, our guiding mission as a family is to improve lives and outcomes for heart transplant recipients like Georgia. Our motivation to grow GCB Medical Supply is fueled by our desire to fund critical pediatric heart research AND help protect front line workers with clinically preferred PPE from a reliable supply chain. This month, GCB Medical Supply donated one million dollars to Boston Children’s Hospital to launch the Georgia Claire Bowen Foundation. Going forward, 10 percent of all GCB Medical Supply’s profits will fund the pediatric heart research that we know is going to change lives.

In the end, the 14 years I spent working in the medical device industry coupled with the experience I gained launching a children's clothing company gave me the tools and relationships necessary to help source procedural loops masks in a moment of crisis. But it was our family’s passion for the incredible people at Boston Children’s hospital combined with the example of grit set by our little peach that is going to allow us to make real, lasting change.  

Finally, I just want to say an extra special thank you to WCVB’s Erika Tarantal. I sat down with her last week to talk publicly for the first time about GCB Medical Supply and the GCB IMPACT Initiative. If you missed the story, you can check it out here!

The outpour of love and support from our family, friends and the entire Petit Peony community has always given me so much strength. It feels wonderful to finally be sharing our latest Bowen endeavor, as you are all a critical part of our journey!

 Xo,

Kate

Georgia Claire Bowen Came Here to Change the World

 A friend recently told me I have a higher threshold for chaos than anyone she’s ever met. I’m not sure she meant it as a compliment, but she makes a fair point!

I’m currently running two companies while trying to raise four kids, and because things were starting to feel a little too quiet around our house last month we decided to adopt 12 chickens.

Jack, Scarlett and Kendal welcoming home their new chicks. :) Names are Woody, Fern, JuJu, Pecky, Bob, Jack’s sister, September, August, Meadow, Summer, Autumn and Winter Bowen!

So yes, I am ALL IN on the chaos - and because of that, I’m always grateful for the rare moments that force me to step back and reflect on where we are and just how far we’ve come in the last two and a half years. Today is certainly one of those days, and here’s why.

May 19th, 2018 was my rock bottom. 

I woke up that morning in the postpartum unit at Mass General Hospital in Boston. Instead of soaking in those newborn smells and snuggles with my fourth baby, I was coming out of anesthesia from an emergency C-section and still trying to process what the doctors were telling me. That after a perfectly normal pregnancy, our little girl was born with a heart defect and had immediately gone into cardiac arrest upon delivery. She was in the NICU and while they were doing everything they could to save her, it became crystal clear where they thought things were headed. My husband Ryan and I were suddenly being moved to a different recovery room in the hospital because they didn’t think it was a good idea for us to stay in the postpartum unit. I don’t remember exactly how they said it, but the point was loud and clear: your child is dying and we don’t want you to be around other moms and newborns right now.

 Georgia in the NICU at Mass General Hospital on May 19, 2018

But little did we know...little did anyone know that Georgia would ignite a medical revolution. I’ve said it many times before: Georgia Claire Bowen came here to change the world. Her left ventricle may have been damaged beyond repair at birth, but the strength of her spirit has allowed her to overcome every seemingly impossible medical setback she’s encountered. Her will to persevere was no match for the stroke she suffered on life support or the heart transplant she received at four months old. She’s not just an inspirational story or a medical miracle (though she is certainly both of those things). Georgia is actually changing how some of the best cardiology doctors in the world treat congenital heart disease.

From day one, we’ve followed Georgia’s lead. We know her work is just getting started, and so is ours. So almost exactly two and a half years removed from the worst day of our lives, we could not be more excited to share that we have established The Georgia Claire Bowen IMPACT (Imagining More Possibilities in Advanced Cardiac Therapies) Initiative at Boston Children’s Hospital. 

We know that Georgia and many kids like her will need new hearts one day and that as many as 14,000 children will be hospitalized for heart failure within the next year. The GCB IMPACT initiative will tackle critical research projects and trial new therapeutic approaches that can help save and improve their lives.

 Georgia with her Cardio Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Francis Fynn-Thompson

We are so thankful to Dr. Christina VanderPluym and Dr. Fynn-Thompson for saving Georgia’s life. You will not find two more qualified people to be leading this work. We are beyond grateful to our families, friends and all the incredible people at Boston Children’s Hospital who helped make this happen. But most of all, we are forever indebted to our little disruptor. Georgia Claire, thank you for opening our eyes to all that can be achieved once you put your mind to it.

I’m going to start blogging more regularly so we can continue to share updates on the GCB IMPACT Initiative as well as other Petit Peony and family news. Please let me know in the comments section if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about! And stay tuned for next week, I’m really excited to share with all of you the story of our new company, GCB Medical Supply!


Xo,

Kate