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  • Couple Celebrates Baby's First Birthday By Donating To Hospital That Revived Their Son

    by Kitty Elicay .
Couple Celebrates Baby's First Birthday By Donating To Hospital That Revived Their Son
PHOTO BY courtesy of Riva Ferrer-José
  • While the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is essential to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we cannot deny the impact it has had on our daily lives. All our major plans were put on hold and for some parents, it’s the birthday parties they painstakingly planned for their little ones. While there are other ways to celebrate the occasion at home (get ideas to make birthdays at home special here), one couple found a unique way to remember the birth of their son: give back to the hospital that saved their baby one year ago.

     In 2019, couple Riva and John Christian “JC” José shared with SmartParenting.com.ph the miraculous birth of their son, Popo, who was born without a heartbeat. Popo inhaled blood from the womb and had hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a type of brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain.

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    In the seven days that Popo was in the ICU, Riva and her husband JC would take turns singing to their newborn.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Riva Ferrer-José

    Fortunately, the doctors were able to revive their son under a minute. According to the couple, if they had arrived in the hospital later, say after 10 minutes or so, things could have been fatal and the neurological damages to Popo’s brain would have been irreversible.

    In the days that followed, Popo made an amazing recovery. Riva and JC, who were former members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, believed it was because the music and their faith kept their son alive. They would sing to him while holding him in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with the approval of Popo’s doctor who said that music would promote faster healing.

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    A birthday party turned fundraiser

    18 doctors and nurses in De Los Santos Medical Center were each given a set of medical equipment, including masks and PPE.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Riva Ferrer-José

    Because of Popo’s extraordinary birthing story, Riva and JC wanted to celebrate their son’s first birthday party on April 17, 2020, with a beach-themed party. Everything was set in February, but because the ECQ happened, they had to cancel their plans.

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    Still, they wanted to make it a memorable and special day. So, they thought of donating the budget they set aside for the party to De Los Santos Medical Center, specifically the NICU and other departments. “We want to give back to the doctors and nurses who helped us when Popo was born on April 17, 2019, without a heartbeat,” Riva shared on the event page that they made for Popo's birthday.

    They also appealed to the kind hearts of the guests that would have attended Popo’s birthday party. “Instead of giving gifts to Popo, we humbly asked our guests to pledge for medical equipment and a simple feast in solidarity with the hospital’s frontliners,” Riva tells Smart Parenting. Guests could either pledge for acetate masks, surgical masks, Virus Shut Out necklaces, personal protective equipment (PPE) made by Jo Rubio, and meal packs.

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    To thank their generous guests, Riva, JC, and Popo held an online concert via Facebook Live.

    On April 17, Riva shares that they were able to raise Php103,310! The amount was enough for 18 sets of medical equipment (given to nine nurses and seven doctors in the hospital), plus a feast for 300 people, including other health care workers, staff, guards, and sanitary personnel in the hospital.

    And because music is such a big part of their family’s lives, the couple decided to thank their guests with an online concert through Facebook Live. They even made a “virtual photo booth” to remember the special day!

    Though Riva and JC were not able to hold the birthday party they initially planned and prepared for, the celebration of Popo’s first year became more significant and held more purpose, especially for their family and the frontliners that they were able to help.

    “This is a very tough time for all of us, including the 2019 babies as they couldn’t physically celebrate their first birthday with all their loved ones,” Riva shares. “But with much optimism and with God’s grace, we can turn this situation into something meaningful through solidarity—something our children can learn from and be proud of in time.”

    Our frontliners are making huge sacrifices to help the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here and here for their inspiring stories.

    For the latest news and updates on COVID-19, check out reportr.world/covid-19.

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