Two families, one heart: How the tragic death of a baby in Racine saved the life of another in Kansas | Local News

2 children were born in 2018. Arkaydin Howard in Racine, Wisconsin. Peter Hernandez in Silica, Kansas. Little did either household understand, their stories would quickly be deeply linked.

Christopher and Erin Hernandez invited their 3rd kid, Peter, into the world on Aug. 18, 2018. He appeared healthy. However his heart wasn’t operating properly.

“It was a nurse that caught that he had a heart murmur,” Christopher stated. “With that scan, they learned something more immediate had happened and we hadn’t really got a lot of details at that point.”

However, the medical facility they were at did not have the needed devices to do more for Peter. After being sent out to Kansas City’s Kid’s Health center, the household was notified that Peter had a genetic heart problem: aortic stenosis.

Not even 2 weeks old, Peter would undergo his very first surgical treatment to fix his little heart. While the surgical treatment was at first ruled a success, Peter contracted a staph infection that would ruin the repair work.

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After open heart surgical treatment at simply 4 weeks old, Peter was doing much better, then he wasn’t.

“On the day that we thought we were going to leave the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), instead he went into cardiac arrest and ended up back on life support,” Erin stated.

In November 2018, Peter was noted on the transplant list.

Brittney Struebing and Arkaydin 3

Brittney Struebing snuggles with her boy, Arkaydin Howard.

‘He was such a good boy’

That exact same month, Arkaydin Howard was born, on Nov. 4, however his time would be brief. Arkaydin’s mom, Brittney Struebing, stated when he was with her, he was an extremely delighted infant.

“He was such a good boy,” Struebing stated last November. “He was so cute, literally perfect.”

At simply 3 months old, in February 2019, Arkaydin passed away when his daddy was expected to have actually been caring for him. A jury discovered his daddy guilty of second-degree negligent murder in November 2020; he was implicated of having actually shaken the infant. He is because of be sentenced Friday.

Almost three years after her son's death, Racine mother may soon hear his heartbeat again

Struebing, a young person, was dealt with with an almost difficult option after losing her boy: whether to contribute her little young boy’s organs. In the end, Struebing chosen to contribute Arkaydin’s heart with the hope of assisting somebody else’s infant.

His heart would address the Hernandez household’s prayers. Christopher and Erin called it bittersweet.

“You’re literally praying for another child not to make it and, so it feels like — you’re not — but it feels like it because the greatest hope in our life at that point also meant someone else’s worst day of their life,” Erin stated.


The Hernandez household, from delegated right: Peter, Christopher, Erin, Aurora and Michael

His heart beats on

Arkaydin’s heart beats on today. Peter got Arkaydin’s heart 4 months after being on the transplant list, throughout which time the Hernandez household had actually basically ended up being 2 systems. Erin remained in Kansas City with Peter at the medical facility while Christopher, along the assistance with household and the neighborhood, looked after the couple’s other 2 kids, Aurora and Michael.

Peter’s moms and dads revealed appreciation for their “amazing” neighborhood that broke in to assist while the household worked towards bringing Peter house, which they did when he was practically 9 months old. However for Christopher, the most fantastic thing was his partner. He jokes that she might return to school for nursing after discovering a lot from her experience looking after Peter.

“Erin has done a tremendous amount of work with him, because when you’re a Heart Mom, I think you’re a Heart Mom for life,” Christopher stated. “Heart Mom” describes moms and dads of kids with heart problems.

While the household has actually been in touch with Struebing through letters and telephone call, they fulfilled for the very first time by means of Zoom on Tuesday. Christopher and Erin discussed to their kids, now aged 3, 7 and 10, that Struebing was the “Heart Mom,” as they call her in their home.

Peter, like any 3-year-old, was playing with his “Paw Patrol” toys while using “Paw Patrol” footie pajamas, which he immediately displayed to Struebing.

“Thank you for my heart,” Peter stated to Struebing.

Two families, one heart: Racine recipient meets donor's family


Peter Hernandez, alive and well thanks to the contributed heart of Racine’s Arkaydin Howard, smiles here as a 3-year-old.

Delighted to fulfill them

Struebing stated she was so delighted to fulfill the household and to see that Peter was “so strong.” Erin and Christopher, who stated Struebing was now a part of their household, are looking for out a method for her to listen to Arkaydin’s heart once again and likewise prepare for her to visit them.

“Thank you for keeping it (Arkaydin’s heart) strong and going, so thank you to you, too,” Struebing informed Peter.

After going through physical, occupational and speech treatment, Peter lives like the majority of 3-year-olds, playing and triggering chaos for his brother or sisters. For Christopher and Erin, hearing their other kids grumble about Peter is in fact an advantage, considering that it’s “normal.”

By sharing their story, the Hernandez household stated, they wish to raise awareness for the Racine neighborhood to recover from the catastrophe of Arkaydin’s death and for Struebing’s circumstance.

A mourning mum identified a complete stranger on television as the male who got her boy’s heart and hurried to him to feel his heart beat — now they think about each other as household and speak every day. Valerie Stebel, 45, lost her boy, Cody, 20, from serious injuries he suffered in an automobile mishap simply months after he had actually passed his driving test in May 2017.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.