Senator Flanagan Joins Stony Brook Medical Center To Protect Newborn Babies

John J. Flanagan

October 17, 2006

Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) proudly joined the staff and administration of the Stony Brook University Medical Center as they announced the establishment of the Brady William Russell Memorial Fund. Senator Flanagan secured startup funding for the project that will enable research into neonatal complications from high-risk pregnancies, premature birth and Sudden Infant Death (SIDS).

The fund is named in honor of Brady William Russell, the son of Sean and Mary Ellen Russell, who passed away earlier this year. Born six weeks premature on January 26, Brady William Russell faced respiratory complications. After two weeks in the hospital, he was scheduled to go home but developed pneumonia and a respiratory virus. When he was finally discharged after five additional weeks, he unfortunately died from SIDS.

His mother and father worked with the staff at Stony Brook University Medical Center to coordinate a fund to further research in this area. As a constant friend to the center, Senator Flanagan provided state funding that will serve as seed money for this important project.

The creation of the Brady Russell Memorial Fund and the establishment of "Brady's Laboratory for the Neonate" will serve as catalyst in advancing basic and clinical research into lung growth in unborn babies. It will focus on research related to lung growth and development and their relationship to neonatal lung diseases.

"SIDS may have taken Brady from us, but in his short life he showed us what courage should mean," said Sean Russell. "This fund has been created to honor our son and his brave struggle."
SIDS is the most common cause of infant death, accounting for about 25 percent of all deaths between one month and one year of age. SIDS is a complex, multifactoral disorder, the cause of which is not fully understood.

Janet Larson, M.D., Chief of Neonatalogy, and J. Craig Cohen, Ph.D., Director of Neonatal Research, have collaborated for over 10 years to determine new ways to prevent SIDS and other respiratory conditions that contribute to neonatal mortality. Their work focuses on all aspects of disrupted lung development and is actively looking at treatments that enhance normal lung growth.

"The Russell family and Senator Flanagan are to be commended for their insight and courage to learn more and help us tackle the painful result of neonatal respiratory illnesses," said Richard N. Fine, M.D., Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. "As research reveals more about SIDS and other respiratory issues, we hope to better understand and therefore be better equipped to enhance healthy lung development in the neonate."

Senator Flanagan, who had previously committed $125,000 in state funding for this important project, was able to secure an additional $125,000 to double the grant. This funding will be used as seed money and donations will also be solicited by the Stony Brook University Medical Center.

"Too many parents know the pain that the Russell family is experiencing and I am honored to join them in their efforts to protect other families. This fund will greatly enhance the efforts of the caring medical staff here at Stony Brook University and I am hopeful that will lead to a day when parents can live free of this terrible fear," stated Senator Flanagan. "Brady William Russell's time on this earth was much too brief but his enduring legacy can be truly profound."

Stony Brook University Medical Center is home to Suffolk County’s only Regional Perinatal Center caring for critically ill newborns. A team of seven neonatologists (doctors who specialize in the care of newborns) provides the only around the clock in hospital care for newborns in Suffolk County.

The NICU at Stony Brook can care for up to 50 babies at a time, and treats more than 825 premature, sick and injured babies each year. More than 150 infants and 125 high risk pregnant women are transferred annually from other hospitals in the region to the Regional Perinatal Center. More than 100 specially trained nurses care for families in the NICU. The Obstetric and NICU transport teams include specially trained doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, paramedics and respiratory therapists.

For more information or to make a gift to the Brady William Russell Fund, pleasecontact Phil Yankovich in the Stony Brook University Medical Center Advancement Office at 631-444-9249 or go to and specify the Brady William Russell Memorial Fund.

All directed gifts to the Russell Fund will support clinical and basic research in neonatal complications from high-risk pregnancy, premature births, and SIDS. Funding will also support lectures within the Medical Center as well as community outreach activities to raise awareness.

(From left to right) Janet Larson, M.D., J. Craig Cohen, Ph.D., Michael Russell, Senator John Flanagan, Richard N. Fine, M.D., Sean M. Russell, Mary Ellen Russell, J. Gerald Quirk, M.D., President Shirley Strum Kenny join to announce the Brady William Russell Memorial Fund. The Fund supports research to "ensure a life of breaths for every child."