Philanthropy Update

Memorial Scholarship Honors Infant Son and Pregnancy Care Journey

JJ Dowdy, who tragically was “born sleeping” in February 2021, will be known to future generations of medical professionals who train at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

A man and woman standing in the woods smiling at the camera.
Peyton Drane, with partner Jacob Dowdy

His parents, Peyton Drane and Jacob Dowdy, ensured that by establishing the Jacob Robert Dowdy Jr. Memorial MD Endowed Scholarship Fund with an endowed gift in the wake of his death at birth at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Birth Center. The scholarship is awarded to third- and fourth-year medical students at the School of Medicine who intend to become OB-GYNs.

“I tell people that a lot of folks never quite figure out their life’s purpose or they don’t think they have, and here JJ has his purpose covered,” said his mother. “It’s nice to know that he’ll have an impact through helping other people.”

Drane said she was inspired to give in return for the care she received before, during and after her pregnancy journey. She suffered excessive nausea and vomiting that required IV fluids and hospital care at Wake Forest Baptist in the months leading up to delivery.

When the time arrived to give birth, she knew all was not right. Doctors administered an ultrasound to determine that JJ was not alive, and they asked Jeffrey Denney, MD, MS, FACOG, associate professor of maternal fetal medicine, to confirm the situation.

“I already knew what was going on because I just know how pregnancy works and I also have some experience in the medical field,” said Drane, who completed work study abroad at a pediatric research hospital. “What I really appreciated was that the first thing Dr. Denney said was, ‘It’s not your fault. It’s nothing you did, nothing you ate or didn’t eat or drink or anything like that. Sometimes these things just happen.’ I thought it was really nice that he led with that.”

Drane described her care throughout as compassionate, gracious, supportive and kind. “I thought if they have that kind of staff, that means they foster those kinds of traits in their students,” she said. “

It’s important to know the science involved in medicine, but you also need to have empathy and that’s why we set up a scholarship there.” - Peyton Drane

This spring, Drane is looking forward to meeting the first recipient of the scholarship, Melisa Yuce, of the MD Class of 2023.

“I think she’s going to be exactly the type of person we had in mind when we set up this fund,” she said. “We were treated so well. We want to give others the opportunity to treat people well.”