(EFFINGHAM, IL) – For the fourth year in a row, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and St. Anthony High School partnered on a program called “Window to the Womb” which allows high school students an opportunity to see the development of life while in the womb. All the high school students are either part of the Anatomy and Physiology class or the junior religion class at St. Anthony High School, which has recently been studying morality, especially issues of respect for the dignity of human life.
Four mothers in various stages of pregnancy volunteered to have ultrasounds that the students could observe. The students also had the opportunity to see and hold fetal models of babies at different gestational ages to help illustrate the development in the womb.
It was evident that the experience intrigued the students, as they asked the mothers and the ultrasound technologists a number of questions while viewing the ultrasound. The ultrasound technologists pointed out pointed out various body structures, tissues and organs on the ultrasound screen and let the students view the baby's beating heart.
Afterwards, some of the students expressed their amazement and gratitude for the experience. Avery Elder said, “Windows to the Womb was a very eye-opening experience. We were all astonished when we saw the baby’s tiny bones and organs. The moment the face was visible, we all gasped because it suddenly became real: there was a living human being inside this woman.”
Alex Beesley shared, “You see pictures of babies in the womb in your textbooks, but seeing it in person was very eye-opening. You truly see how “real” that life is inside of the womb. I can’t imagine someone seeing what we saw and not thinking that was a life.”
“Windows to the Womb was an amazing experience,” said Reese Buenker. “Seeing the baby moving on the screen and the baby’s eyes blink left me speechless. I will never forget this experience and the impact it had on me.”
Emily Konrad, campus minister at the high school, expressed the high school’s appreciation for St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s willingness to partner together for this project for the past three years. “It means an enormous amount for us at St. Anthony High School to have St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital work with us to accomplish this project. The Catholic identities of both the high school and the hospital inspire us all to work towards an increasing understanding of human life,” she said. “Being able to see into the world of developing babies at several stages along the gestation spectrum is an incredible experience for these students. It will be something that really makes an impact on their lives.”
Theresa Rutherford, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s President and CEO, shared why St. Anthony’s has partnered with St. Anthony’s High School for this project. “At St. Anthony’s, we believe each and every human life is a precious gift. We are fortunate to have the advanced technology that shows in great detail a baby’s development in the womb. By showing these students a precious little baby growing in the womb, we are doing our part to continue to foster respect for all life,” she said.
Photo Caption: Valerie Pike (foreground), HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital Registered Ultrasound Technologist, shows students from St. Anthony High School the development of Jessica Wesselman’s 23-week baby through an ultrasound. Observing the ultrasound are (standing, left to right) high school students Madison McWhorter, Marci Mills, (with Ryan Jennings, MD, HSHS St. Anthony’s Chief Medical Officer, looking on), Sarah Schmidt, Nick Martelli, Claire Wortman, Brandon Runge, and Jacob Zimmerman