Boy given months to live after limp led to terminal brain tumor diagnosis

The family of an 11-year-old with an inoperable brain tumor are preparing for their last Christmas together after he was given six months to live — just two weeks ago. Reece Probert seemed perfectly healthy just last month, but his mom Jenna, 31, took him to the doctors when he suddenly developed a limp and … Continue reading “Boy given months to live after limp led to terminal brain tumor diagnosis”

The family of an 11-year-old with an inoperable brain tumor are preparing for their last Christmas together after he was given six months to live — just two weeks ago.

Reece Probert seemed perfectly healthy just last month, but his mom Jenna, 31, took him to the doctors when he suddenly developed a limp and then a slur.

Scans revealed he had a rare aggressive inoperable brain tumor which sufferers usually succumb to between six and 12 months after diagnosis.

His devastated family are rallying around to give him the best Christmas ever.

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"It will be our last Christmas together and we want to make sure it's nice and comfortable and cozy for Reece," Jenna Probert, of Wombourne, South Staffordshire, said. "I want to make him feel like a king. He should feel like the most important person in the world. It will be emotional because it will be his last Christmas."

"We will decorate the whole house and make it look like Santa's grotto. It will be the most memorable Christmas ever," she said. "Reece knows he has cancer but doesn't know the reality of it. I can't face telling him. I just need him to be happy. Christmas will be a family day and we will give him anything he wants. We will just cherish it together as a family."

Reece Probert seemed perfectly healthy just last month, but his mom took him to the doctors when he suddenly developed a limp and then a slur. (SWNS)

Just six weeks ago, Reece was fit and healthy, but after returning from a trip to see his grandparents in Northern Ireland in November, his mom noticed unusual symptoms.

He had a limp and a sore hand, so his doctor sent him to the hospital for an X-ray, and for tests on his tendons.

But Probert really began to worry when Reece began to slur his words two weeks ago.

A neighbor, who had been diagnosed a benign brain tumor, noticed Reece struggling to speak and feared the worst, having suffered similar symptoms in the past.

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Probert, a personal trainer, phoned 111 and was advised to take her son to the Russell's Hall Hospital, in Dudley, where doctors initially thought he had suffered a stroke.

But on Dec. 1, doctors at Birmingham Children's Hospital performed a CT scan and found an "abnormality" of the brain.

Two days later Probert was told her son had diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – an aggressive cancer typically found in children.

"I collapsed when I was told that," she said. "I felt like my heart had been ripped out. It was a horrible feeling. They put him on steroids to reduce the swelling before he had the MRI scan."

"It was bad enough being told he had a stroke," she siad. "I was just praying that they had got it all wrong. I just started screaming 'no, no, no'. I couldn't breathe. It's the worst thing any mom can be told."

"Even the oncologist has tears in her eyes whilst she was telling me," Probert said. "We were taken into the family room and told that chemotherapy won't work and radiotherapy will only shrink the tumor. But it will come back and will eventually end his life."

"Most children die between six and 12 months from diagnosis," she said.

Reece is due to start his first round of radiotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor and give him more time.

Probert is now focused on making sure Reece has the most "amazing Christmas" with her, partner Robert Perry, 27, and his sister Trinity Alcock, 6.

"I've had to put the reality of it to the back of my mind," Probert said. "I'm just focused on enjoying him whilst we still have him. We want to make memories with him and just want to make sure he is happy and comfortable."

"Reece has been fantastic. He has taken it all in his stride and has been amazing," she said. "I couldn't be more proud of him. He is known as the class clown and his friends have been to visit him. For us, the next year is all about making him feel extra special."

Friends and family have launched fundraising campaigns and arranged charity events in a bid to raise money to ensure Reece has a Christmas to remember.

So far £5,000 (approx. $6,285) has been raised on GoFundMe.

‘Miracle baby’ survives after being given less than 1 percent chance of survival

An Indiana couple is thankful for the miracle of life after their son was given a grim chance of survival — only to fight against the odds.

Daniel Breyts was told to start preparing for his newborn's funeral before he was able to hold his son, Rowan, who was born three months early and suffered from Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), an aggressive infectious disease that attacked his intestines.

"Without a small intestine, he could never eat. He would never grow. He was too small to hope for a transplant. It was a death sentence," Breyts said of the diagnosis. "We kissed him and cried, telling him how much we loved him and wished there was something we could do."

The couple spent as much time with him as they could, offering him kind words and apologies through tears, but instead of getting worse, Rowan's condition improved.

We watched as our baby fought for his life.

— Daniel Breyts

"Jess and I spoke at length and decided that he wasn't giving up…neither would we," Breyts said. So they contacted Riley's Children Hospital in Indianapolis which offered to take his case and even mentioned the possibility of a transplantation of his intestines.

Four days later he went into surgery, and the doctors had some shocking news.

“She told me they saw a lot of pink viable intestine, which was the exact opposite of what we had been told,” Breyts said.

After seven months in NICU, Rowan was able to make his first trip home of his life.

Rowan Breyts was born weighing a little more than one pound with almost no chance of survival, but today he is thriving. (FOX 59)

“Seeing him myself and knowing where he came from as far as how small he was and the issues that he had, in my heart he is a miracle,” Breyts told FOX 59. “He’s an honest-to-God miracle.”

At birth, Rowan weighed a little over a pound and was about the size of his mother's hand, but today, he is 13 pounds, 9 ounces and getting bigger and healthier each day.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Boy with terminal brain tumor receives thousands of Christmas cards, trip to Fiesta Bowl

An 8-year-old boy’s mailbox has been filled with Christmas letters, including one from the White House, after a push for holiday cheer went viral. Drake Quibodeaux, from Louisiana, was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a terminal brain tumor, nine months ago, WAFB.com reported.

DIPG is a highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumor typically found at the base of the brain. According to the Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, DIPG accounts for 10 percent of all childhood central nervous system tumors, with approximately 300 diagnoses each year. It typically strikes in children ages 5 through 9, although it can occur at any age.

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According to the center, complete surgical removal of the tumor is not an option, and each treatment plan is dependent on the child but can include experimental chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Prognosis for patients remains poor.

“Last week, we got the news that his tumor was growing,” Danielle Quibodeaux, the boy’s mother, told WAFB earlier this month. “At the start, they give you nine to 12 months. And on the 12th of this month, it’ll be nine months.”

To make this Christmas memorable for Drake and his family, a family friend took to Facebook to ask members of the community to send him a Christmas card.

“Please mail a Christmas card to Drake (8yrs old)! He was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor (DIPG) in March of this year, and I’d love to flood him with cards this Christmas to show him how many people are praying for him and supporting him through this journey!” Jennifer Virgadamo Duhon posted on Nov. 30.

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He’s since received thousands, and additional efforts to send him to the Fiesta Bowl to watch his beloved LSU Tigers take on UCF, and another to send him to Disney. The Fiesta Bowl campaign caught the attention of game organizers, and he was given a free trip to Arizona so he can be present for the New Year's Day game. He also wished to hunt a deer and was successful.

“It’s not about presents, it’s not about nothing,” Quibodeaux said of the cards her family has received. “It’s about letting him know the community loves him and they’re behind him.”

Photos capture heartwarming moment blind boy meets Santa, reindeer

A Texas mother’s post about the “Best Santa ever” has gone viral after she shared moving photos of her 6-year-old son, who is blind and autistic, touching Santa’s face and feeling his suit as they shared a special moment.

The Wolf family, of Watauga, had traveled to Cabela’s on Dec. 5 to meet Santa after Matthew expressed an interest in him.

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“I went over there and whispered real quick I said, ‘He’s blind and he’s autistic but very interested in Santa,’” Wolf told Fox 4 News.

What followed next, according to Wolf’s Facebook page that has received more than 224,000 reactions and nearly 95,000 shares, was a little bit of Christmas magic.

“He said ‘say no more’ and immediately got down on the floor to greet my little man,” Wolf wrote on Facebook. “He talked to Matthew for a long time. Let him feel all over him. Told him to pull his beard, feel his hat and talked about his red suit.”

Wolf told Fox 4 News that her son’s favorite book is “’Twas Night Before Christmas,” but that she had never realized that he didn’t really know what a “twinkle” in the eye meant.

“He asked Matthew if he wanted to feel anything and Matthew said, ‘your eyes that twinkle’ (from the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) so Santa let him touch all over his eyes for as long as Matthew wanted.”

Matthew was then brought over to Santa’s reindeer display so that he could feel what the animal’s fur is like.

“It was great,” Wolf wrote. “My heart was full seeing Matthew so interest.”

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The man who donned Santa’s suit was not identified in Wolf’s post, but Fox 4’s Lauren Przybyl posted on Facebook that he is James Langley, who has an adult child with special needs.

“All children need is love,” Langley told the news outlet.

Matthew had only asked Santa for water during his visit, which Wolf said is typical of her son.

“He’s not like all the other kids that want a bunch of toys,” she told the news outlet. “He’s just not into that. He’d rather have that experience and actually find out what Santa is.”

Young girl wakes up from two-week coma: ‘Our Christmas miracle is happening’

The family of a Florida teen with cystic fibrosis was shocked and amazed after their 17-year-old daughter unexpectedly woke up from a two-week coma last week, but say prayer is still needed.

When Christina “Chrissy” VanDerVelden fell into a coma, her parents, William and Alaina, both retired Navy veterans, were told to prepare for the worst, so they started praying for a Christmas miracle.

On Dec. 5, with friends, family, and strangers all over the world praying, they got their answer when Chrissy woke up at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

“When Chrissy’s parents went to see her…the nurses told them they have a surprise! Chrissy was awake! Her eyes were open, she grabs your hand and she is trying to communicate. She can answer questions by nodding her head yes or no…Our Christmas Miracle is happening! She still has a long road ahead,” their GoFundMe page read. “Please keep sharing, praying, or donating.”

Christina "Chrissy" Vandervelden at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. She woke up from a two-week coma but is still in need of prayer. (Alaina VanDerVelden)

For the VanDerVeldens, the past year has been their worst year ever. Chrissy has been in and out of the hospital, and when she was home, her mother was hospitalized for West Nile virus, and their other daughter, Alexis, has Asperger’s syndrome, so caring for them has been challenging and at times, they felt like they were suffering in silence.

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“We take every day minute-to-minute, and live off hope and prayers,” Alaina VanDerVelden told Fox News. “[Chrissy] still needs to get better just to be put on the list to be eligible for a dual lung transplant.”

Christina "Chrissy" Vandervelden is a talented artist and uses her work to express herself. Above are two of her pieces. (Alaina VanDerVelden)

And while it has caused them to question their faith, Alaina VanDerVelden said her faith in humanity has been restored.

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“Seeing all of the support we are getting, people that don't even know us, visiting, praying, sending cards,” she said. “It's always just the four of us…I'm starting to see that people do care, people have hearts.”

Chrissy’s family from left to right: William, Chrissy, Alexis, and Alaina. This year has been tough on them but they’ve received prayers and support from all over the world. (Alaina VanDerVelden)

The GoFundMe page to support Chrissy in her fight has raised half of the $12,000 goal to date.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Surgeons separate 3-day-old conjoined twins in 5-hour operation

Surgeons in India posed for a celebratory selfie after successfully separating 3-day-old conjoined twins in a painstaking operation.

The baby girls – which are yet to be named – had a combined weight of just 7lbs and were joined at the tummy.

Doctors said the pair's parents were anxious about separating them – but thankfully doctors managed to convince them it was for the best.

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A five-hour op saw the medics anesthetize them both at the exact same time, before separating their breastbones and livers.

The surgeons at S S Hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, performed the procedure for free because the parents were not able to pay.

The girls, pictured before the surgery, were only 3 days old at the time of the operation. (SWNS)

The medics took a photo with the two babies on the operating table to celebrate the op which was tricky due to their tiny blood supply.

"It was one of the rarest operations our hospital does," Dr. Vaibhav Pandey, assistant professor of pediatric surgery, said. "I am very happy that both survived in spite of the long operation and the children being weak. It was a challenging task."

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The operation took place on Dec. 6 and was performed by a team of five surgeons, ten doctors, and 15 nurses.

They are set to be discharged later this week and will be named in a traditional ritual at home. (SWNS)

The babies, who were dehydrated before the operation, are due to be discharged from hospital later this week and are doing well, the hospital said.

They will be named during traditional rituals performed when they get home, it was said.

Boy, 6, diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria after positive strep test

A 6-year-old boy in Mississippi is fighting for his life after a flesh-eating bacteria infection sneakily spread through his legs for days. Chance Wade, whose mom is urging other parents to “never take anything lightly,” had tested positive for strep three days after he started complaining about leg pain, WJTV.com reported.

“He was complaining about his leg, we took him to the doctor he tested positive for strep throat but he was still limping,” Melissa Evans, the boy’s mother, told the news outlet.

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By the time he was diagnosed, doctors at Blair E Batson Children’s had discovered that the infection spread through both of his legs.

The boy has already been through three surgeries to stop the infection from spreading further. (Courtesy Melissa Dianne Evans)

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly throughout the body and can lead to death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Timely diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment and prompt surgery are vital in stopping the infection from spreading. According to the CDC, group A Streptococcus is a common cause of necrotizing fasciitis.

Evans said she isn’t sure how her son contracted the infection, but that he’s already been through three surgeries to prevent it from spreading further since the end of November.

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“It can come from many things, just a small cut, an open wound just a scratch… With all this weather changing, and sick babies, and everything going around, just never take anything lightly,” she told WJTV. “Just continue to pray for me and my baby he’s still fighting and it’s going to be alright.”

She told WJTV that she hopes she can bring her son home in time for Christmas, and has started a GoFundMe page to help cover his medical expenses.

Henna tattoo leaves girl, 3, with chemical burn in shape of cat

A 3-year-old girl has been left with horrific chemical burns and permanent scars covering her arm – thanks to a black henna tattoo she got on vacation.

Freja Ellis was on a family break in Antalya, Turkey, when her mom Marlana, treated her to get the design at a local shop.

But shortly after arriving back in the U.K., Freja complained the cat pattern – which stretched from her wrist to her elbow – was itchy.

The design erupted in a series of painful blisters, which then became infected – leaving Freja with disfiguring scars.

"My little girl has been scarred for life after getting what I thought was a harmless black henna tattoo," Marlana said. "She has been covered in blisters and in so much pain. It's been heartbreaking."

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"We were entirely unaware of the dangers and want to make sure other parents know what can happen so this doesn't affect other children," Marlana, a nurse, said.

The 32-year-old said she had a great trip with her young daughter and her mom, Julie Ellis, and that Freja had been begging for a henna tattoo after seeing other children at the hotel with them.

Marlana said the design erupted in a series of painful blisters, which then became infected – leaving Freja with disfiguring scars. (SWNS)

"Freja was desperate for a henna tattoo as she'd seen older kids running around with them," she said. "I tried to put her off getting one as much as I could as I really didn't want her to get one, but she'd been so well behaved that on the day before we left I decided to treat her."

"We went to a nearby barbershop as they were doing henna tattoos," she said. "Freja flicked through the book of designs and chose a cute picture of a cat sitting down. The shop seemed really clean and tidy and the man who did the tattoo even wiped Freja's arm with an antiseptic wipe beforehand so I wasn't too worried."

"It took 10 minutes to complete and then we had to wait 10 minutes for it to dry – she was totally made up with it and it wasn't until we got home that we realized there was something wrong," she said.

Freja began complaining of an itching and burning sensation just days later.

"We'd been home for about three days when Freja said: 'Mummy, my arm, it's warm and it's itching me. It hurts,'" Marlana, of Herne Bay, Kent, said. "I had a look, but there was nothing visible to the naked eye so I gave her some Calpol as she had a bit of a temperature and decided I'd give it until the next day to see if she'd improved."

"But when Freja woke up the next morning, she was in tears and a nasty blister had started to appear," she said. "She was constantly itching it and had very red, raw blisters full of fluid on her arm."

Marlana rushed her daughter straight to the local minor injuries unit, the Queen Victoria.

Doctors diagnosed her with a chemical burn, and she was put on antibiotics for 10 days. (SWNS)

"We saw the duty doctor and I showed him a picture of the tattoo when it had been done," she said. "Straight away he identified it as black henna. I didn't realize it was different to any other type of henna. He explained it contains chemicals which aren't meant to be used and told me that it'd burnt her skin."

"I was shocked when he diagnosed it as a chemical burn," Marlana said. "He dressed it with a wet dressing to cool it and gave her antihistamines for the itching."

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A chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, is added to henna to make the tattoos darker and increase their lifespan. While PPD is present in many products, such as sun cream and hair dye, it is usually used in very small doses.

The addition of PPD into henna is now recognized as a public health issue, as this allergenic chemical often causes hypersensitivity reactions in children.

Three days after the initial diagnosis, Marlana took Freja back to the doctor to have her wound re-dressed as fluid was seeping through the bandages.

Marlena said the tattoo was determined to have been done using black henna, which contains PPD. (SWNS)

Freja returned a week later to be checked over and doctors discovered the wound was infected.

"Freja was given a course of antibiotics for 10 days," Marlana said. "After she'd finished her antibiotics it was then redressed again and we were told the infection was clearing up. Now they've just taken off her dressings to try and get it to scab over and heal as much as possible."

Now, Marlana wants to warn others of the danger of black henna tattoos.

"I just don't want any other families to go through what we have," she said. "Freja's tattoo will most definitely scar as the burn was quite deep – hopefully it will fade in time – but it will definitely leave a mark."

"I'd had brown henna tattoos done as a child and they were absolutely fine," she said. "The doctor said they sometimes use black henna abroad because it's cheaper for them to purchase. I want to make people aware because so many children have them done on holiday. Freja's going to be scarred for life – she'll forever have a cat on her arm."

Florida mom flying American Airlines with baby to hospital thanks kind stranger who offered his first-class seat

One Florida mom is feeling grateful after a kind stranger on her American Airlines flight offered his first-class seat to her and her baby daughter traveling to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She expressed her thanks in a Facebook post that has since gone positively viral with over 261,000 likes.

On Dec. 6, Kelsey Zwick boarded American Airlines flight 588 from Orlando to Philly with Lucy, one of her 11-month-old twin daughters. Zwick told Fox News that little Lucy and her identical twin, Eva, were born 11 weeks prematurely, at just 29 weeks gestation, and that Lucy suffers from severe chronic lung disease as a result of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), a complication of the pregnancy.

When the twins were born on January 13, Eva arrived in the world crying and breathing while Lucy [pictured] was blue and “very sick,” Zwick says, and the newborn was immediately placed on maximum support for her lungs. (Kelsey Zwick)

The brave baby girl was on oxygen support “24/7” until recently, Zwick says. Today, Lucy only needs oxygen at night and while flying – when one small good deed reminded Zwick how “blessed” she and her husband, Yuri, truly are.

“To the man in 2D. Today you were traveling from Orlando to Philly. I don’t know you, but I imagine you saw us somewhere. I was pushing a stroller, had a diaper bag on my arm and also lugging an oxygen machine for my daughter,” Zwick began her much-buzzed-about Facebook post. “We had smiles on our faces as we were headed to see her “friends” at CHOP.

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“Sooo… thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy." (Kelsey Zwick)

“We pre-boarded the plane, got cozy in our window seat and made jokes to those around us about having to sit by my yelling-but-happy baby. The flight attendant came over and told me you were waiting to switch seats. You were giving up your comfortable, first class seat to us,” she wrote.

Zwick’s emotional story evidently touched the hearts of many, sparking many supportive comments on the post that has since been shared over 164,000 times. (Kelsey Zwick)

“Not able to hold back tears, I cried my way up the aisle while my daughter Lucy laughed! She felt it in her bones too… real, pure, goodness. I smiled and thanked you as we switched but didn’t get to thank you properly,” the mom continues.

“Sooo… thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy. For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US,” Zwivk mused. “It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can’t wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime… we will pay it forward.”

Zwick’s emotional story evidently touched the hearts of many, sparking many supportive comments on the post that has since been shared over 164,000 times.

Moving forward, she told Fox News that the generosity of her fellow American Airlines passenger has since inspired her to “reflect,” and want to “pay it forward.” (Kelsey Zwick)

Moving forward, she told Fox News that the generosity of her fellow American Airlines passenger has since inspired her to “reflect,” and want to “pay it forward.”

“When the flight attendant mentioned that the man in first class wanted to switch. It took me a moment to understand why. As it sunk in that a perfect stranger wanted to bless us, I couldn’t hold back tears. It was a gesture of someone saying, I SEE you and this is what I can do,” Zwick said on Dec. 8.

“As I sat in the roomy seat, I couldn’t help but reflect. First, the long road on not knowing if we could have children of our own. We got pregnant and were diagnosed with TTTS, a rare complication. Overnight we had to fly across the country to get a fetal surgery when I was pregnant,” she revealed. “We didn’t know if they would survive the procedure but these girls our fighters! They did amazing!”

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When the twins were born on January 13, Eva arrived in the world crying and breathing while Lucy was blue and “very sick,” Zwick says, and the newborn was immediately placed on maximum support for her lungs. The twins proceeded to spend nearly three months in the NICU at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando – but gained enough strength to have the medical clearance to go home.

“WE are the lucky ones,” Zwick says of the joy that she and her husband were able to bring their girls home. (Kelsey Zwick)

“WE are the lucky ones,” Zwick says of the joy that she and her husband were able to bring their girls home.

Now, the twin's mom says that she hopes others are inspired to go out and do good for others after hearing their story.

“You never know what people are going through. So many people helped us along the way from family and friends to the TTTS foundation to the man in 2D. One small act of kindness is a ripple effect!” she said. “[And] when you get to the other side of your struggle – whatever that looks like – pay it forward!”

“Thank you to the man in 2D! The world is hungry for kindness… and I hope this expands far beyond what happened to us yesterday,” she concluded.

Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak

Colorado dad welcomes baby girl, loses wife on same day

A Colorado father who welcomed his baby girl on the same day he lost his wife is receiving help from his Littleton community after a fundraiser was started on Facebook. Frederick Connie's wife, Keyvonne, wasn’t due to give birth until mid-January, but she started hemorrhaging at their home on Nov. 30, he told KDVR.

“I’m like, ‘Are you OK?’ And I see blood everywhere,” the new dad told the news outlet.

Connie is now learning to cope with the sudden death of his wife while also learning to be a new dad. (KDVR)

Doctors told Connie he had to choose between saving his wife and potentially losing their baby, or saving the baby and potentially losing his wife. He said he did what he believes his wife would’ve wanted him to do, and elected for Keyvonne to undergo an emergency C-section to save their baby.

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Angelique Keyvonne Connie, who was named after her mother and will be called “Pooder” for short, entered the world shortly before her mother’s health began to decline.

“Literally all of her insides just went all over the bed and the floor,” Connie told KDVR. “They tried [to save her] and her heart couldn’t take it. She died before they could even get her to the surgery.”

The Connies' baby is expected to spend several weeks in the hospital, and while the new dad is struggling with both learning how to cope with his wife’s sudden death and care for a newborn, members of the community have collected funds to help him pay unexpected costs.

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LeQuita Taylor, who owns Taylor Mortuary with her husband Michael, has offered funeral and cremation services to Connie at no cost, she told KDVR. Taylor said she felt moved to help after her own traumatic experience giving birth. A Facebook fundraiser has also raised over $21,000 for the family.

Connie’s daughter, who was born prematurely, is expected to spend several weeks in the hospital. (KDVR)

“I’m financially not OK,” he told KDVR. “This debt is like piling up and I have to bury my wife, my daughter coming into the world, it’s so high right now.”