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Two families, one heart: How the tragic death of a baby in Racine saved the life of another in Kansas | Local News

Two infants have been born in 2018. Arkaydin Howard in Racine, Wisconsin. Peter Hernandez in Silica, Kansas. Little did both household know, their tales would quickly be deeply intertwined.

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Christopher and Erin Hernandez welcomed their third youngster, Peter, into the world on Aug. 18, 2018. He appeared wholesome. But his coronary heart wasn’t functioning appropriately.

“It was a nurse that caught that he had a heart murmur,” Christopher stated. “With that scan, they learned something more immediate had happened and we hadn’t really got a lot of details at that point.”

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But, the hospital they have been at didn’t have the vital gear to do more for Peter. After being despatched to Kansas City’s Children’s Hospital, the household was knowledgeable that Peter had a congenital coronary heart defect: aortic stenosis.

Not even two weeks outdated, Peter would bear his first surgical procedure to restore his little coronary heart. While the surgical procedure was initially dominated a success, Peter contracted a staph an infection that may destroy the repairs.

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After open coronary heart surgical procedure at simply 4 weeks outdated, Peter was doing higher, then he wasn’t.

“On the day that we thought we were going to leave the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), instead he went into cardiac arrest and ended up back on life support,” Erin stated.

In November 2018, Peter was listed on the transplant listing.

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Brittney Struebing and Arkaydin 3

Brittney Struebing snuggles together with her son, Arkaydin Howard.

‘He was such a good boy’

That identical month, Arkaydin Howard was born, on Nov. 4, however his time could be quick. Arkaydin’s mom, Brittney Struebing, stated when he was together with her, he was a very glad baby.

“He was such a good boy,” Struebing stated final November. “He was so cute, literally perfect.”

At simply 3 months outdated, in February 2019, Arkaydin died when his father was speculated to have been taking care of him. A jury discovered his father responsible of second-degree reckless murder in November 2020; he was accused of having shaken the baby. He is because of be sentenced Friday.

Almost three years after her son's death, Racine mother may soon hear his heartbeat again

Struebing, a younger grownup, was confronted with a almost not possible selection after shedding her son: whether or not to donate her little boy’s organs. In the finish, Struebing elected to donate Arkaydin’s coronary heart with the hope of serving to another person’s baby.

His coronary heart would reply the Hernandez household’s prayers. Christopher and Erin referred to as it bittersweet.

“You’re literally praying for another child not to make it and, so it feels like — you’re not — but it feels like it because the greatest hope in our life at that point also meant someone else’s worst day of their life,” Erin stated.


The Hernandez household, from left to proper: Peter, Christopher, Erin, Aurora and Michael

His coronary heart beats on

Arkaydin’s coronary heart beats on immediately. Peter obtained Arkaydin’s coronary heart 4 months after being on the transplant listing, throughout which period the Hernandez household had primarily develop into two models. Erin stayed in Kansas City with Peter at the hospital whereas Christopher, alongside the assist with household and the group, took care of the couple’s different two youngsters, Aurora and Michael.

Peter’s mother and father expressed gratitude for his or her “amazing” group that chipped in to assist whereas the household labored in the direction of bringing Peter residence, which they did when he was nearly 9 months outdated. But for Christopher, the most wonderful factor was his spouse. He jokes that she may return to highschool for nursing after studying a lot from her expertise caring for Peter.

“Erin has done a tremendous amount of work with him, because when you’re a Heart Mom, I think you’re a Heart Mom for life,” Christopher stated. “Heart Mom” refers to folks of youngsters with coronary heart points.

While the household has been in contact with Struebing by way of letters and cellphone calls, they met for the first time through Zoom on Tuesday. Christopher and Erin defined to their youngsters, now aged 3, 7 and 10, that Struebing was the “Heart Mom,” as they name her in their home.

Peter, like every 3-year-old, was enjoying together with his “Paw Patrol” toys whereas carrying “Paw Patrol” footie pajamas, which he promptly confirmed off to Struebing.

“Thank you for my heart,” Peter stated to Struebing.

Two families, one heart: Racine recipient meets donor's family


Peter Hernandez, alive and properly because of the donated coronary heart of Racine’s Arkaydin Howard, smiles right here as a 3-year-old.

Happy to fulfill them

Struebing stated she was so glad to fulfill the household and to see that Peter was “so strong.” Erin and Christopher, who stated Struebing was now a half of their household, are looking for out a method for her to take heed to Arkaydin’s coronary heart once more and in addition plan for her to go to them.

“Thank you for keeping it (Arkaydin’s heart) strong and going, so thank you to you, too,” Struebing advised Peter.

After going by way of bodily, occupational and speech remedy, Peter lives like most 3-year-olds, enjoying and inflicting mayhem for his siblings. For Christopher and Erin, listening to their different youngsters complain about Peter is definitely a good factor, because it’s “normal.”

By sharing their story, the Hernandez household stated, they hope to lift consciousness for the Racine group to heal from the tragedy of Arkaydin’s death and for Struebing’s state of affairs.

A grieving mum recognised a stranger on TV as the man who obtained her son’s coronary heart and rushed to him to really feel his heartbeat — now they think about one another as household and communicate on daily basis. Valerie Stebel, 45, misplaced her son, Cody, 20, from extreme accidents he suffered in a automotive accident simply months after he had handed his driving take a look at in May 2017.

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