Count the fingers. . . .
Baby Alexandra was born with 12 fingers and twelve toes, characteristics common with her disorder. Her actual six-fingered handprint serves as our logo. Remember, "there will never, never, ever be another you".
This six-fingered handprint logo is trademarked and her handprint or its likeness cannot be used for any other personal or commercial purpose without expressed permission from Alexandra’s House.
Our Foundress worked zealously in a variety of roles throughout her career as a nurse in Cardiology. This was a field she loved yet eventually began seeking a newer challenge. This led her to begin the application process for Medical School. She, like most, had a plan for her future.
However, in 1992, most unexpectedly, she began to sense an inner calling to open a home for infants who were at risk of abuse or death. She thought this “calling” was her own, born of her innate love for children.
However, on December 12, 1994, Feast day of the patroness of the unborn, this calling was tested and clarified with the birth of baby Alexandra into her life. Little Alex, her niece, lived 45 days, dying at the family home from a rare and fatal genetic syndrome. Over and above the heartbreaking pain of Alexandra’s death, they felt alone and isolated during those desolate weeks, as they came home with minimal support. The days, and especially nights, were long and agonizing.
This experience brought to surface for her a hidden problem. Medicine, with its immense technical advancements, can diagnose serious fetal defects early in pregnancy. Parents of gravely ill, unborn babies can feel isolated in their grief, in their search for information, and their need for support. While hospice services existed then for adults, it was unknown for babies still in the womb. A family should not have to walk this path alone and she, trained by this deeply personal experience, learned what families needed in these situations.
Thus, on April 28, 1997, Alexandra’s House was founded as a non-profit corporation with its purpose being expressed as a baby hospice, for the term “perinatal hospice” had not yet been characterized. Initially the mission was operated from her home until it moved into a larger space to accommodate families, and she supported it with her personal income until 2003. The first baby was referred in 1999 and now Alexandra’s House operates fulltime, in person and also online, by phone, whatever is needed, to serve families and their dying babies for free.
And then. . .
A friend, years ago, told our foundress that the needs of society would dictate the direction of the mission. How prophetic that was. From 2008 on, each time someone has reached out to Alexandra’s House for help, the answer has been ‘yes’. Services were expanded initially to normal pregnancies ending in miscarriage, stillbirth and deaths of newborns of all causes; then infants-toddlers at home dying of SIDS, accidents, trauma, disease; children with chronic illnesses reaching end of life; decades old losses where mothers still grieve; and women pregnant with healthy babies but she, mother, has life threatening conditions like cancer, organ transplant, and other disorders where both lives are at potential risk.
While this very special place for very special babies (a phrase spoken by Alexandra’s three- year- old brother) is located in the heart of America, it has served babies and families around the globe. Do not let location hinder you in reaching out for help. It is always our privilege to serve.
A Very Special Place For Very Special Babies
Dr. Eugene Walker James Pearce
Founding Medical Director
Eugene Walker James (EWJ) Pearce, M.D. was the first medical director of Alexandra's House, joining us in the summer of 1999. He graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri and completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Kansas. After serving in the United States Army for four years, Dr. Pearce became a full-time instructor in the department of OBGYN at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He served for eight more years there as an Assistant Clinical Professor, while in Johnson County, Kansas, he began private practice in OBGYN, along with his wife, Dr. Lunetta, a Family Practitioner. Later, Dr. Pearce served as Associate Professor and Chief, Section of Gynecology, at Truman Medical Center/University of Missouri Kansas City Medical School, where in all these institutions and by all his residents, colleagues, patients, friends, he was greatly admired. He was known for teaching his residents about Shakespeare, how to prepare a budget, and the important art of tying bowties.
Dr. Pearce’s introduction to Alexandra's House came inexplicably but the relationships that developed afterwards were mutually gratifying. The “rest is history”, and Dr. Pearce contributed a vast amount of his time to Alexandra's House. He was well known and respected and this is precisely what gave feet to the vision of Alexandra's House. He lectured extensively to medical, nursing, grief, and lay audiences to promote this concept and was very well received. He attended all our family gatherings and retreat weekends, served as an Educator to our families, our Board and our all-volunteer staff. His wife, Lunetta Memming Pearce, M.D., also attended each event with him, was a grand champion and resource for all as well. He died in February of 2008 and was followed in death by Lunetta three months later.
Ethics and Morals
MaryCarroll Sullivan, RN, MTS, JD
Chief Healthcare Ethicist
Initiative of Palliative Care and Advanced Planning
Archdiocese of Boston
President American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics
Dr. John and Dr. Hilary Stroh
Jeff Wall, M.D.
Daddy to baby Connor
Obstetrician and Gynecologist
William Schwartz, M.D.,
Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist
Marc Parrish, D.O.
Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist
Center for Advanced Fetal Care
Catherine A. Powers, MD
Hospice and Palliative Care