BEDFORD, Ind.-- An Indiana couple is turning loss into hope and generosity.
Jordan and Katy Key gave birth to their first child, Colton, on March 6, 2016. Colton had been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a birth defect that restricts blood flow through the hart. In other words, it was underdeveloped.
”Usually, about 1 in 900 kids that end up with that,” Katy explained. “When we found out, it was definitely stressful.”
Doctors and the Keys agreed, Colton would have three surgeries. They were optimistic about the treatment plan, especially after he made it out of the first surgery successfully. At that point, he was only three days old.
In December, Colton returned to Riley Hospital for Children for his second surgery. While his heartbeat was strong, the then 10-month old baby contracted an infection and died from a resulting brain injury.
“It was hard,” Key remembered. “We thought we were out of the danger zone.”
Jordan remembers that tragic day as well.
“We just had to make a decision. What kind of people are we going to be after this? Are we going to let this damage or destroy our lives or are we going to choose somehow, to do something positive with it?” he asked.
The Keys created “Colton’s Kindness” in their baby’s honor. Katy and a local company now make and send memorial jewelry to other grieving parents.
The couple remembers how stressful it was sitting in the hospital throughout the holidays. That’s why for the last two years, they’ve collected toys for the kids admitted to the heart hospital and gift cards for the parents sitting and praying nearby.
“Just being there is hard. You miss everything. You miss your house. You miss your own tree,” Katy told CBS4. “I know they sound like silly things but they’re just things that you notice when you’re sitting in a cold hospital room."
“When you’re going through something really tough you have to find something to cling to,” Jordan explained. “For me, it was OK I have to get out of here for 10 minutes. I need to go get a coffee from Starbucks. And just knowing there was money preloaded on a gift card...”
The Keys work with a Riley Hospital for Children nurse to create an Amazon wish list. On it, there are blankets, puzzles, coloring books and other items. It’s active online now. As soon as someone buys from the wish list, the item is shipped to the Key family. On Dec 14, Katy and Jordan will pack up the more than 500 items and distribute them.
“Colton was only alive for 10 months but his impact and the amount of lives he has been able to touch in our community and a few different countries,” Jordan said. “Just thank you. Thank you. Thank you for honoring my child’s memory.”
The Keys still need several items. If you’re interested in donating, you can find the wish list here.