Two heartbroken dads have warned parents after their miracle baby tragically passed just a week after his first birthday.
Leigh and Justin Khoo welcomed their baby, Owens, last year in March via surrogate. He was born prematurely at 29 weeks.
At the time of birth, baby Owens weight only 1.44kg and was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which means he was blind by birth.
His loving and caring dads ensured Owens was properly taken care of – they spent their days and nights looking after him, and he was off medication within a few months.
But on March 14, 2023, a week after his first birthday, Leigh and Koo found Owens lying unconscious in his cot. When they rushed him to the hospital, doctors gave them a horrifying diagnosis report after running multiple tests on their baby.
The pair were told that their one-year-old baby had a deadly and contagious disease called meningococcal which caused inflammation to his brain and spine.
According to Leigh and Koo, their son had a mild fever 48 hours before he was admitted to the hospital and suffered from sepsis. But the diagnosis was indeed a shock to them.
“His fingers shrunk and turned blue, sparking fears they would have to be amputated, with the inflammation of his head causing multiple brain hemorrhages and clots,” wrote Daily Mail.
On March 17, 2023, baby Owens passed away in the hospital.
After his death, his grief-stricken dads took to their Instagram to let their followers know what caused the death of their baby.
“As a result of the infection and aftermath of the sepsis/inflammation to his tiny body, it ultimately caused severe brain damage, where Owen was not able to recover or sustain life with any treatment or medication thereon,” they wrote alongside a series of photos of their beloved baby.
“Justin and I got to hold Owen right up until his last breath, and I know he feels all the love from everyone who knew him, and we know that he is now at peace in Heaven.”
Adding that it was the hardest week of their life, and they are still in shock and denial, Leigh and Koo told their Instagram family that their little angel was a brave warrior.
“We will never ever forget all the moments we got to kiss you, laugh with you and make beautiful memories going on so many adventures. Your smile, your love and your impact on all around you will forever be in our hearts,” they wrote.
They also let people know that their baby had contracted the deadly W strain of the disease, which is more deadly than the others, and it’s spreading very fast in Australia.
“Babies in Australia can be vaccinated at 12 months of age for the A C W Y strains as per the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Owen unfortunately because he was born premature didn’t receive it at his first birthday as he was technically only 9 months old.”
“We would encourage all parents to make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms and know that the rash doesn’t always appear. Owen didn’t have it and as scary as it as in Owens case it was very mild and then attacked in ways so quickly that we can’t fathom that we now face grieving his loss.”
The distraught dads also urged other parents to seek professional help and advocate for their children.
Leigh and Koo have also set up a GoFundMe account to raise funds as they want to grow their family again and become parents to another surrogate baby.
“Growing our family in love and honour of Owen, and our goal again to proceed through a surrogacy journey to have a sibling for Owen, would mean the world to us and our family. With funds raised, this will help us pay for surrogacy agency fee services, medical bills, unexpected/unplanned pregnancy associated costs, legal advice and paperwork review etc,” they explained in their GoFundMe statement.
“There is no expectation to donate to us, we just wanted to share with you all, that if you do just want to share this post with others and help Owen’s story create more awareness around Meningococcal and ROP blindeness, we would appreciate this is so much.”
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