Parents' mission in memory of baby girl sets sail
Project Sloopy has set sail. So named for Anu Cru Mallery, a baby girl with a big heart but damaged brain who died earlier this year at CHOP, the project is now a nonprofit run by the girl’s parents.
Tom and Kate Mallery registered to incorporate Project Sloopy in July with the mission to “salvage and redistribute unused medical supplies” and have been on a cross country trek to fulfill that promise.
“We’ve completely filled the van we have with medical supplies,” Tom Mallery said. “And we have a trailer and a U-Haul and that is filled as well. That would have all gone to waste. Now the supplies are going to families that could use them.”
First, some background. Ana Cru was born at a New Jersey hospital on March 13, 2012, with a tuft of brown hair and a sweetheart mouth – but she had also suffered brain damage while in the womb. Tom and Kate were told medical treatment did not look promising.
The couple from Somerville, Somerset County, N.J., moved to West Philadelphia to be near Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where they had taken Ana for treatment. Ana lived at CHOP until she was sent home with her parents on hospice to the house they were renting on N. Sloan Street in West Philadelphia.
Ana died Feb. 17. Her nickname was "Sloopy" after the song, Hang on Sloopy, Tom Mallery used to sing to her.
After Ana’s passing, the couple had boxes and boxes of expensive, unused medical supplies still in sealed packaging that were ordered for treatment and care, and paid for by insurers. The pair wanted to give them back, but was told simply to throw the products out because they were considered a possible liability, even though they remained sterile and unopened.
They refused, believing it was a waste and that others in need could use them. They also realized their case was typical of so many people with health problems who are sent expensive medical supplies that go unused.
Tom Mallery, who had worked for a family business, had taken leave to dedicate himself full-time to Ana. Kate Mallery also left her work. So, the couple began a cross-country trek with the mission of connecting those in need with unused medical supplies. They called it Project Sloopy.
The couple registered Project Sloopy as a nonprofit with the Pennsylvania Department of State on July 26. They are in the process of applying to the IRS for federal nonprofit 501(c)(3) status.
In an interview earlier this week, Tom Mallery said the couple was in Clarksville, Tenn., to visit a woman who is unable to eat solid foods and relies on intubation.
“As we’ve been going on this trip she’s been getting progressively sicker,” Mallery said.
“We’ve completely filled the van we have with medical supplies. And we have a U-Haul that is filled as well. That would have all gone to waste. Now they are going to families that could use them. We have everything from pediatric trach (tracheostomy) supplies, adult trach supplies, catheters, formula, diapers, adult diapers - all stuff medical supply companies send in overabundance to families. “
Mallery recalls one recent connection the couple made.
A woman from the Orlando area had donated a $1,500 oxygen concentrator to Project Sloopy. An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that uses tubes to deliver almost pure oxygen to a patient through the nose. It essentially pulls the oxygen out of the surrounding air.
Soon after, the couple was traveling through Nashville and a local television station aired a story on their mission. An ill woman reached out to them.
“A woman called us,” Mallery recounts. “She was out of breath and sounded desperate. Her husband got on the phone and said they had just gotten a letter from Medicaid or Medicare saying they were taking away her benefits that paid for the oxygen concentrator. They had been praying that morning. Then they saw us on the news and saw the oxygen concentrator and got in touch with us.”
“We brought them the oxygen concentrator,” Mallery said. “They were crying and in tears and hugged us. It was really very emotional and fulfilling for us that we could help at least one person. But that was just one instance and we’ve had many like that on this trip.”