University Hospital Ghent
"Shortest Lives"

Client: University Hospital Ghent
Product: Shortest Lives
Title: Shortest Lives
Media: PR, Digital campaign, Website, Flyer
Country: Belgium
Date Of Campaign: 27/01/2023

Background: In Belgium 4,3% of births are stillbirths. Losing your child is the worst thing a parent can imagine. But for parents of stillborn babies the grief is complicated as they have nothing of their children to hold onto and remember them by. Parents feel they can’t truly talk about it with their surroundings who find it hard to imagine the connection you already had with your baby. According to the grief counselors of Child and Family, a governmental agency for child wellbeing, parents can be helped in their grieving process by recognising the existence of their babies by holding onto details like weight, length, ultrasound pictures or anything that can help remembering them. But unfortunately during pregnancy there isn’t much to hold onto. University Hospital Ghent wanted to help parents of stillborn babies in their grieving process by giving them a living memory of their babies to hold onto, remember and share openly with their friends and family.

Idea: When you first hear you are expecting a baby it’s hard to imagine this new life. But the moment you truly become a parent is when you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Heartbeats mean life. This moment is when you connect emotionally and become a parent. In Belgium these heartbeats are data registered on ultrasound pictures and logged in the database of the hospital, only stored for medical reasons. We found an audiovisual way to bring these first heartbeats back to the parents. With “Shortet Lives” they can relive a powerful memory whenever they need it. It gives proof that your stillborn baby actually existed and offers a new and? personalised way of grieving that parents also can share with their families and friends.?Shortest Lives was initiated by the University Hospital of Ghent.? The website was launched on 27th of January 2023? and promoted nationwide through PR by spreading a video of the stories of the parents of stillborn babies and their reaction to the audiovisual experience of their babies’ first heartbeats. Even though we don’t normally speak of the 4,3% stillborn babies born each year, we've reached 85% of all Belgian adults with earned media, because we were able to turn data into a story that triggered strong emotions and empathy.? Instead of organising a traditional press conference, we held? a panel discussion with gynecologists, psychologists and parents of stillborn children. Everything? was centered around the personal stories of the parents and the main focus was on the reconstructed heartbeats of stillborn babies, the undeniable sign of life. This human approach made it interesting for the press to talk and write about. They shared our stories and the heartbeats helped us achieve our goal to help to raise awareness about the pain and grief of parents that lose children before they are born. Using the serenity and credibility of press, parents felt comfortable to talk openly about their experience expecting this new life in the same way every other parent- to-be is? expecting new life. On the Shortest Lives’ website you can request to receive your audiovisual experience of your baby’s heartbeat. Together with other data points like the size of the baby, the gender and the stage of pregnancy it is transformed into an audiovisual image of your baby’s heartbeat. Every part of the design and naming process? was chosen to recognize each baby’s life.?This makes Shortest Lives the first living memory for parents of stillborn children.

Results: - Immediately after the launch, we received 223 requests from parents - Of the parents who already received the heartbeat of their baby, 9 out of 10 parents say Shortest Lives has helped them to cope with the grief they’ve experienced after their baby was stillborn. (Source: post-campaign test results)- 83% of these parents also shared their babies’ heartbeat with friends and family. (Source: post-campaign test results)- 1 out of 3 parents whose baby was stillborn in 2022, already requested their personal living memory.- Other Belgian hospitals are looking to join the platform.

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