Jake was born on May 25th, 2007.  Aside from being smallish (a 6 pound, 2 ounce peanut), he was a perfectly healthy little boy, and a welcome addition to Holly and Andy’s family.  Their oldest son, Ben, was 21 months old when Jake was born, and he was thrilled to be a big brother.  Ben spent a lot of time comparing his feet to his brother's and acting silly to try to make him smile.  Jake developed some acid reflux that kept him from sleeping well, so he spent much of his short life in his mother’s arms or asleep on her chest.  “Looking back on it, I treasure all of the time I spent cuddled up with him” says Holly. 

When Jake was about two and a half months old, he was put in his bassinet for a nap and when his father returned he was not breathing.  Andy administered CPR, he called 911 and the ambulance crew arrived very quickly.  “They were able to revive Jake's heartbeat and he was transported to our local hospital, where they did a CAT scan and put him on a ventilator.  Jake was then flown to a larger hospital two hours away from home -- the longest drive of our lives.  When we arrived, the doctors sat down with us to explain what they saw in the CAT scan, which was not positive.  In the morning a second scan was performed, and it revealed that Jake was legally brain dead, with no chance of recovery,” shared Holly.

“Ultimately, it was Andy and I that first broached the subject about organ and tissue donation.  There was no way to make sense of what had happened to Jake, to us,” explained Holly, “but there was a way to allow something positive to come of the whole experience.  If another family, another mother and father could experience the joy of knowing their baby was going to survive, that would ease the loss in our lives.”

Holly and Andy talked extensively with the coordinator about their decision and gave their permission for Jake to be an organ donor.  Jake was able to donate his heart and his corneas.  “The coordinator who worked with us was extremely helpful, and supported us the whole way”, says Holly.  “We don't know anything about his cornea recipients, but a little boy, Beckham, will be three this coming August because he received Jake's heart.  The moment Jake's heart was placed in Beckham's chest, it began to beat, and on our lowest days, that's what gets us through -- knowing that Jake's heart gave this beautiful gift to a boy and his family.”


Jake's floragraph, 2nd row, 2nd from left

According to Holly, Jake's loss has taught so many people how important it is to treasure every moment.  A local teacher was so inspired by Holly and Andy’s story that she shares it with her students to help people realize the difference organ donation can make!

Holly and Andy continue to be involved in promoting and telling their “story of hope” to others.  Recently, Holly performed and shared her family’s story at the National Transplant Games to held in Wisconsin on July 30 through August 4, 2010.  And Jake's image and story were part of the 2011 Rose Parade Donate Life Float floragraphs!

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