Over the past few years, this young couple has been a part of saving many, many lives…by extracting people from automobiles after an accident, helping put out fires, getting people out of burning homes, performing CPR and helping in hundreds of other emergencies.
Diane’s father is Fire Chief in the small town of Homer, IL, and leads an incredible team of volunteer firefighters. He also is a first responder and has saved many lives, including the life of this writer when I choked on food at Christmastime a few years ago. Diane’s mother has for years worked as dispatcher of emergency services in nearby Champaign, IL. They are an amazing family that has helped hundreds.
On Tuesday Nov. 21 Diane and Matt received calls at work from their babysitter. Their 3-month-old daughter had stopped breathing. She was immediately raced to the nearest hospital in Danville, IL. Area EMTs were still treating her when she arrived there. She had a pulse, and hope interrupted their panic and fear. Then tiny Braelynn (with dark hair and beautiful blue eyes) was air lifted to a larger hospital in Champaign, IL. for more specialized care.
There, the doctors worked to save her, but the tests showed damage to her brain due to the initial lack of oxygen. Everyone felt her very best hope was at the famed Children’s Hospital 180 miles way in St. Louis, MO. A cousin of Diane’s worked security at the hospital in Champaign and was on the rooftop when the Children’s Hospital helicopter set down there to pick up the precious infant and fly her away. Three nurses and a doctor accompanied the baby on the helicopter flight to St. Louis.
Diane, Matt, and Diane’s parents drove immediately to St. Louis leaving their precious baby with Matt’s parents and their family of firefighters (those in the brotherhood will understand the importance and significance of that!) they arrived in St Louis just as the chopper set down. They stood watch over the baby through the entire night. Tests were conducted and finally the shattering news was delivered to the helpless parents. Baby Braelynn now had no brain activity at all. She could not survive without the breathing tube and the medicine they were delivering intravenously to her.
For three hours my tortured niece Diane and nephew Matt then held the still, unmoving baby in their arms and cried in anguish at what lay before them. Matt’s parents then arrived at Children’s (after a several- hour drive) to say goodbyes to the baby and to provide their support to Matt and Diane.
A short while later, tears from the family and their amazing team of doctors and nurses flowed as they stopped the medicine and Precious Baby Braelynn died in her mother’s arms at 12:10 pm on Wed. Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.
The couple had not slept for 30 hours and had worked desperately for 21 hours to save their precious baby, and she was gone.
The villages of Homer IL. and Catlin, IL. now gather to help plan the after-funeral meal and to provide support, prayers and love to this couple and the grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins of Braelynn.
I am the great-aunt of Braelynn, and I was at the hospital when she went to be in heaven. I hope no one ever again has to go through what her parents and family went through that day.
Others who hear of or who know and love this family will not want them to go from this crippling loss to the stress of having enormous medical bills. It is too early to know what the insurance company will NOT pay, but with the state of limited insurance these days, it is a given that not all expenses will be covered. And there will be huge expenses involved.
That is why we are creating this Go Fund Me page for estimated expenses. We are grateful for the specialized and urgent care that was given to Braelynn, but it comes with a cost. And the truth is, that this family load would be lightened by any contribution you can make. And, your act of giving will extend loving comfort to them as well, and help create a rainbow over their troubled days.
I am estimating $5,000 for funeral-related expenses. (the funeral home does not charge for an infant’s funeral itself). $20,000 for just one of the two emergency airlifts with staff (and this could be MUCH higher) and $5,000 for deductibles and unanticipated costs.
Braelynn will be buried on Thursday Nov. 30, her maternal grandmother’s birthday. There will be a visitation from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the church with a firefighter / EMS walk-through scheduled for 6 p.m. Kirby Funeral Home, Homer, IL. 61849 is in charge of arrangements.
God Bless You All,
The family of Braelynn Grace
Additional note: At the time I set up this campaign the mother and father of Braelynn (Diane and Matt) were most distraught. So when I created the campaign, I listed Diane's mother (my sister Deb Happ) as the person who would withdraw funds. Since that time, Diane and Matt have set up a specific savings account just for the donations they've received from this campaign and other donations. Since I had listed Deb as the person to withdraw, she went ahead and moved the Go Fund Me funds from here to Diane and Matt's medical savings account for Braelynn expenses; she did this today 1/2/2017. So, the money donated has gone directly to Braelynn's parents in anticipation of the medical expenses.
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