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Hayden’s Hope: How a Baby’s Death Is Saving Lives.

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Hayden Lead


During the summer of 2011, Jenn and Dari Nowkhah were full of excitement and anticipation. Along with their children, Nicolas and Nahla, the expectant parents were preparing to bring home a new baby brother. The family had moved to Connecticut from Tulsa, Oklahoma when Dari was offered a dream job sports reporting for ESPN and their life was brimming with hope. However, things weren’t to happen according to plans. The family would have to summon a strength they never imagined.

Jenn Holding Hayden at Hospital

Jenn Holding Hayden at Hospital

Hayden Michael Nowkhah was born on August 12, 2011 and from all outward appearances looked to be a thriving baby boy. After a few days at home from the hospital, however, the parents were horrified after taking Hayden’s temperature and seeing the thermometer read 102.3. The family rushed their son to the ER where they assumed after some testing that they would wait for only a day or two and Hayden’s fever would break.

A true break never came. The dangerously high fever was a sign of a virus and the doctors had to inform them it had attacked poor Hayden’s heart. To give him the best chance at survival, the hospital team put Hayden on the top of the heart donation list. Jenn and Dari stayed at the hospital for almost a month as their newly born son waited

his turn to receive a new heart. As that time got closer, Hayden suffered a stroke which made him ineligible to remain on the organ donation list.

During a time that no parent ever wishes to experience, Mr. and Mrs. Nowkhah had to let their son go. “On his 39th day of life, at almost the same time he was born just 39 days before, we gathered in his small hospital room to spend our final moments with our beautiful, precious son,” said Jenn. Life seemed unimaginable, unfair, cruel.

A rabbi whom the Nowkahs befriended while they were staying at the hospital gave them some words of wisdom that helped change their perspectives and their lives. He told them they could make the choice to let Hayden’s death destroy them, or they could take this experience and do something that honored him.

During his short journey on earth, Hayden inspired his loving family to turn a heartbreaking, potentially devastating situation into a chance to spread awareness about three very important issues similarly shared by other families during their hospital stays – childhood organ donation, blood donation, and the crippling costs involved. “We believe every transplant family deserves a helping hand, allowing them to solely focus on their child’s care,” said Dari Nowkhah.

This belief gave birth to Hayden’s Hope, a charitable organization, and the name couldn’t be more fitting. When families find themselves in the Nowkhah’s situation — their child clinging to life, awaiting an organ donation, hope is all they have to get them through. Hayden’s Hope has raised over $163,300 and helped two dozen children. “We live a delicate mix of joy and sadness,” said Jenn Nowkhah.

Hayden is With Them Forever

“In our arms for a little while, in our hearts forever.”


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