“The idea for this tree has been in my head for years,” said artist Laura Fuller, today at a celebration of the tree installed last month at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. “it was hard to figure out how to get the vision into reality. I was talking about it a lot and it turned out I was talking to the eventual donor.” The tree is in memory of her deceased daughter, Delaney, who died at 9 of a genetic enzyme deficiency.
This afternoon a gathering of family and Barbara Bush Childrens’ Hospital employees celebrated the installation of a 18 ft. tree that distracts young patients and their families from their hospitalization and treatment.
Dr. Lorraine McElwain, Director of the Inpatient Unit, said that this idea began two years ago at a meeting at the Fuller Glass Studio on Munjoy Hill. “This won’t happen. It was too unfocused,” she said today laughing. “There is always someone here checking something out. All ages enjoy this tree. It’s a gem for the Unit,” she said.
Fuller and friends of hers made two trips in 2009 and 2010 to a orphanage for children whose parents had died of AIDS. The orphanage, the Newstart Orphanage in Zimbabwe was directed by Dr. Saleem Farag and his wife Grace. The group, several of whom were nurses from Maine Medical Center, took some medical supplies as well as shoes, diapers and other basics needed to the orphanage. There were a number of newborns who needed special attention from Fuller and her friends. Both trips were very emotional for Fuller. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was in power complicating their trips to Africa. At over 90 years old, he is still in power. (mhn.com wrote several pieces about her experiences at the time that may be found herein.)
At the time Fuller was married to a musician for the rock band – The Twisted Roots. That marriage ended in divorce and she has since remarried. Due to an excessive rent increase, she left her Munjoy Hill large studio several years ago. Fuller has recently relocated to a new venue at 34 Washington Avenue, Fiore Home.
The Barbara Bush Childrens’ Hospital was established in 1997. There are 30 inpatient rooms with 8 critical care rooms on the sixth floor of the unit. It’s the tertiary hospital for the State of Maine for children.