After New Mom Dies of Rare Infection, Internet Steps in to Help the Baby She Left Behind

Image Source: Michelle Sharifrazi Kosko
Image Source: Michelle Sharifrazi Kosko via GoFundMe

Nearly every single day throughout those nine months of pregnancy, most moms-to-be fantasize about the moment their child enters into the world and into their arms. According to doctors, there are several reasons why skin-to-skin contact with parents and their baby that first day of life is so important. According to many mothers, it is that moment that creates an unbreakable bond with our new baby.

But what if that first day, was the last day you ever got to hold your child?

Thirty-one-year-old Joy Rusin had been trying for years to get pregnant with her husband Craig, enduring several fertility treatments to conceive her first child. After carrying her son to term, she couldn’t have anticipated what was going to happen on his birthday.

According to a GoFundMe page that has been set up by family member Michelle Sharifrazi Kosko, William Gray Rusin was born 11 lbs 14 ounces on July 18, 2016. But just four days into his life, before he left the hospital, his mother passed away due to a rare, flesh-eating infection she caught during the delivery.

“Joy had only one day to enjoy holding her son, before her physical pain became so unbearable she couldn’t even place him on her chest,” Kosko explains on the page, established to raise funds to support the family.

The infection was called necrotizing fasciitis, and when doctors realized she had contracted the bacterial infection, they rushed her into surgery to remove what they could. But after the surgery, her organs began shutting down and despite the efforts of the medical staff, her heart couldn’t hold out.

“Joy was a bright light in the lives of many, radiating true love for the world and those around her. All of us who were blessed with Joy’s love were forever transformed by the magic of her heart and her genuine unselfishness,” she continues.

The goal of the fundraising is to ease the financial burden for the Rusin family and will be used to offset the medical expenses incurred as well as support the needs of baby William.

I discovered Joy’s story through Amanda Moon Callahan in the Rollins Mamas Facebook group, a page for mother alums of the small Florida college. Our paths never crossed, as she attended a few years after I graduated.

“Hold your babies extra close for a moment tonight,” she urged us. When I clicked on the link and read her story, and saw the photograph accompanying it, I was moved to tears.

I will never forget that moment, the first time I got to hold my baby.

I have a photograph, and it looks almost identical to Joy’s — gazing wondrously into the eyes of my mysterious little miracle and experiencing that unconditional mother’s love for the first time.

In that moment, our future together flashed before my eyes. Never once did it occur to me that my son could be leaving the hospital without me.

Callahan hopes to start a hashtag, #WishesForWilliam, as a sentiment for baby William, where friends or strangers can send in stories, memories, photographs, or just prayers and wishes that they have for him after hearing about his birth story. Joy’s friends and family will work to create a compilation keepsake book for William.

“Joy was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Amidst troubles of her own, she was always the first to reach out and help you if you needed anything,” says Callahan. “Now, we are helping her in her greatest time of need to fill the empty space left behind with love, support, and wishes for her family and sweet baby boy.”

As mothers, fathers, and friends, I urge you to band together and honor Joy and her family during this tragic time by not only contributing to her fund, but by kissing your babies a few extra times today.

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