“She is wonderful. She’s beautiful. She’s our peanut.” Ben and Jessica Brown of Utica show off their baby daughter Lorelei, but from the hospital where the tiny baby (a mere 3 pounds at birth) will need months of corrective surgeries. Ben is Utica’s longtime fire chief and hesitantly approved a Go Fund Me account to help defray costs of their baby’s lengthy schedule of surgeries to correct heart and brain defects. Donations also are being accepted at Community Bank of Utica.

Ben and Jessica Brown of Utica welcomed their first child and immediately fell in love with their little “peanut.”

Lorelei Sandra came into this world a little too small, however.

Jessica’s water broke Dec. 4 and she was rushed to Northwestern University Women’s Hospital and put on bed rest. Seven weeks later, Lorelei checked in at a 3 pounds and just 15 inches. She has a long way to go.

“She is wonderful,” the proud papa said Monday after a Go Fund Me account was established to help their first daughter. “She’s beautiful. She’s our peanut.”

She also arrived with myriad complications. Doctors found a heart defect — a hole in the septum between her left and right ventricles — as well as brain malformations, which left Lorelei without a right eye or right ear. Many of her abnormalities can be corrected, but not all at once and not right away.

“We’ve got multiple surgeries coming up,” Ben said. “She had to get bigger before they can do anything.

“It has been an ordeal,” he acknowledged.

“We’ll be at the hospital at least until April if not longer, so it’ll be six months in the hospital. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, but right now we’re doing pretty good.”


Say hello to Lorelei Sandra Brown, daughter of Ben and Jessica Brown of Utica. Lorelei has yet to make it home to Utica, however. She arrived at an undersized 3 pounds, 15 inches and with brain and heart defects that will require multiple surgeries. The Brown family is gratefully, but reluctantly, accepting donations through Go Fund Me or Community Bank of Utica to defray Lorelei’s medical costs.

Ben Brown is Utica’s longtime fire chief, and the former Jessica Adams was a lifeguard at the YMCA and longtime volleyball coach. Both have dedicated themselves to serving others and were reluctant to ask for help.

Friends prevailed on them to establish a Go Fund Me account to help with the ancillary expenses (food, fuel, lodging) during their already-mounting trips to Chicago — and this is assuming insurance will cover all Lorelei’s pending surgeries.

Lorelei has yet to make it home to Utica.

She is currently at the neonatal intensive care unit at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, Chicago, adjacent to the hospital where Jessica was treated two months ago.

The Go Fund Me account can be accessed at www.gofundme.com. Use the search function for “Lorelei Brown.” Updates on the family’s progress can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessicabenbabybrown

For those who prefer to make donations by cash or check, an account has been set up at Community Bank of Utica.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.


Tom Collins is the NewsTribune Senior Reporter. He can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com.

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