my 12 hour old son

was taken to le bonheur

By Brittany Spence

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Brittany Spence shares the story of her son who lived less than 60 days and how this young man has helped over 50,000 people!

We were pregnant with our first child and chose not to find out the sex of the baby. We were so excited about the upcoming birth and had made all kinds of plans when the baby was born. We created a gender neutral nursery, had numerous showers where we received so many generous gifts from others, and read books to prepare. We couldn’t wait to meet boy or girl Spence.

Shortly after birth, Forrest developed complications and was transported to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where he fought valiantly for life for 55 days before his illness overtook him. While in the PICU, Forrest and his family underwent an indescribable journey of highs and lows. Amidst the daily struggles, the Spences were met with a compassion and love that gave them hope and helped them survive the most difficult journey of their lives. It was in these times that they tasted deeply of the kindness of friends and perfect strangers. It was often that kindness that sustained them, as they grew weary.

We delivered Forrest 3.5 weeks early because I was having some kidney issues. The delivery went fine with no complications. After Forrest was delivered he started to breathe a little fast. No one was alarmed but they took him to the NICU just to monitor him. They decided to keep him overnight but were still not overly alarmed.

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The mission of the Forrest Spence Fund is to assist with the non-medical needs of critically or chronically ill children and their families throughout the Mid-South and now Nashville!

My husband and I went to sleep around midnight and around 4 am we heard a knock on the door and in walked a disheveled doctor with a wrinkled lab coat and a coffee in one hand and his first words to us were “I’m doctor so and so and I think your son may die”. He then proceeded to say lots of medical jargon that I didn’t understand but in essence, Forrest had contracted Group B strep and his whole body had gone septic. All of his organs were shutting down and he was dying. He asked for us to give permission for him to be life flighted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital where hopefully they could save him.

My 12-hour old son was taken to Le Bonheur without David or I knowing if he would live or die. They put him on life support called ECMO and told us how very critical he was and they weren’t sure he would make it. The next 55 days were a lot of ups and downs and the worst roller coaster of my life.

He took a bad turn on day 52 and we knew that he was not going to make it. On day 54 my husband turned to me as we watched our son struggle to live and told me he wanted to start a Fund.

He wanted to call it the Forrest Spence Fund and he wanted us to give back in our son’s name and help others who go through this terrible nightmare.

He already had the logo in his head and the vision of what it would look like. The Forrest Spence Fund was born out of the worst moment of our lives as our son took his last breath.

We view this as a way for us and for others to support families dealing with similar difficult situations and to give back to regional children’s hospitals like Le Bonheur, where the amazing medical staff fought for Forrest and continues to fight for thousands of other children each year.

2018 Forrest Spence 5k

Join the Forrest Spence Fund on August 25th at 8:00 am for a 5k run, with a 100-yard dash for kids (8 & under) at 9:15 and 1 Mile Fun Run (kids 12 & under) at 9:20 am. There will be games, bounce houses, slides, food, awards, door prizes, and more. Bring the entire family for a fun-filled morning at Memphis Botanic Garden.

4 Ways the Forrest Spence Fund Helps:

  • Meeting individual patient and family needs.
  • Working with institutions to better recognize and meet non-medical needs.
  • Connecting families with counseling and support groups and covering the cost of counseling for bereaved families.
  • Providing grants up to $5000 to families demonstrating need.

Brittany Miller Spence

Executive Director and Founder at Forrest Spence Fund

Brittany, along with her husband David, founded the Forrest Spence Fund in memory of their son Forrest. Brittany was born and raised in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She graduated with a Masters degree in Elementary Education and Psychology from The University of Tennessee. She worked as a school teacher and youth director for several years before becoming a full-time homemaker and mother to Austin, Miller, and Maggie. Brittany currently serves on the Family Partners Council and the Parent Mentor Program at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. She is also serving on the Nurse-Family Partnership Community Advisory Board.  She loves to read, travel, exercise, and spend time with friends and family.

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