Most of the time, they prayed on their knees next to their daughter’s hospital bed. Sometimes, they prayed before a statue of Mary on the hospital grounds. Rarely, when there was a good time to sneak away, they found a quiet moment inside the chapel in the adjacent affiliated hospital.
But while Marc and Mandy Seymour stayed with their infant daughter at the then-brand-new University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital building, there was no chapel on site.
Quinn Rosalie Seymour was born August 9, 2011, in Ohio with junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB) Herlitz-type—a severe subtype of what has been called “the worst disease you’ve never heard of.” Its hallmark characteristic is extremely fragile skin that blisters or sloughs off with even minor friction from rubbing, scratching, or changing clothes. The blistering also affects the body’s mucous membranes, making eating and digesting food painful and sometimes impossible.
Within days of Quinn’s devastating diagnosis, the Seymours learned about the experimental treatment pioneered at the University of Minnesota aimed at treating EB with a promising but risky blood and marrow transplant. So the Seymours packed up and temporarily moved to Minnesota when Quinn was 11 weeks old, seeking care from EB trailblazer and Pediatric Oncologist Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, the director of the university’s Stem Cell Institute.
Quinn struggled with multiple bouts of pneumonia after her transplant. On April 7, 2012, 8-month-old Quinn passed away, surrounded by her family, including her then-2-year-old brother, Camden.
Through her grief, Mandy Seymour kept thinking about a conversation she’d had with the hospital chaplain several months earlier. The chaplain had told her that the hospital was supposed to have a chapel but that no donor had yet stepped forward to help build it.
“It was always on my heart,” Mandy Seymour says.
Three years, many fundraising events, and several generous donations later—including significant gifts from Quinn’s grandfather Dale Seymour as well as another local family—they reached that goal, just as they were deciding to move to Minnesota permanently.
The Seymours say the hospital will always hold a special place in their hearts—not only because it was where Quinn spent almost all of her life, but because they found a place full of people who wanted their daughter to live as much as they did. The hospital community lifted them up in their time of need, they say, and they hope that the Quinn Seymour Chapel can do the same for others following in their footsteps.
“It’s not about us,” Marc Seymour says. “It’s about providing a place where people can find a little bit of comfort and a little bit of hope.”When it opens in 2016, the chapel will provide a nondenominational space for anyone in search of a moment of prayer or peace.