Human Interest

Husband and father succumbs to cancer moments after newborn son is placed on his chest

cancer, newborn

A young mom is grappling with a roller coaster of emotions: happiness at the birth of another son, and heartbreak at the loss of her husband.

Jb and Haley Parke were anticipating the birth of their second son, but there were complications: Jb had been diagnosed with cancer in January, originally given six months to live. But towards the end of Haley’s pregnancy, Jb’s health took an unfortunate turn. With three weeks left to go in the pregnancy, Jb’s life expectancy dropped to just days. The couple made the only decision they felt they could.

“[M]y husband and I knew asking for an induction was the right thing to do,” Parke wrote in a Facebook post that has since gone viral. “Without hesitation, the team of ICU doctors communicated with the head of high risk labor and delivery doctors. They offered me an induction as soon as I was ready.”

In an interview with TODAY, Parke explained that the cancer had spread to Jb’s lymph nodes, and that his lungs had filled with fluid. Initially, doctors began with an induction, but labor wasn’t progressing quickly, and Jb was not doing well. “[A] team of ICU doctors entered my room Thursday morning at 8am with the news that Jb was declining fast and had a matter of a few hours,” she wrote. “It was either a c-section right at that moment, or Jb would not have the opportunity to meet our son.”

READ: Mother delivered two weeks early so dying husband could meet his baby girl

Parke didn’t hesitate, and within 20 minutes, their son was born. While Parke was being stitched up in the operating room, their son was rushed to Jb, two floors up.

“The miracle of all this?” she continued. “When our baby was placed on Jb’s chest, Jb’s vitals all instantly improved. He was also acknowledging our son was there by making small head movements and sweet moans.”

When Parke was finished in the operating room, she was taken to Jb’s room in the ICU right away. “I spent my recovery time gazing at my husband. I was gazing at him in sadness, but in awe of his strength,” she said. “He took his last breaths with our son on his chest and my hand in his hand.”

In her account of that bittersweet day, Parke said there wasn’t a dry eye among doctors and nurses who helped them, and the experience would remain with the medical staff forever. “Some of them told me they’ll never forget this act of selflessness,” she said. “Some called my actions brave and heroic. I just call it love. I acted out of love. I put my trust in God that this was part of his plan, and I did what I had to do, out of love, to fulfill my husband’s last wish.”

Originally, the Parke family hadn’t chosen a name for their son, but after his birth and Jb’s death, Parke said she knew exactly what to do.

“I knew in my heart it was only right to honor my husband,” she said. “So, it is my pleasure to announce the birth of our brave, amazing son, John Beeson Parke (Jb). Welcome to the world baby Jb. Your story is truly a miracle.”

A GoFundMe account set up for the family had raised more than $100,000 at the time of this article’s publication.

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