Our Story

On November 27, 2020 we laid our 9 month old son Grady, down to sleep for the night in his crib, which still occupies a part of our room. He had not felt good for the previous week. He was teething, with a low grade fever. It never got above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He had been clapping and playing on the floor with his siblings Brig, Griffin, and Livvy most of the afternoon. I, Erica had checked on him around 11pm. He was snoozing soundly and we never thought another thing about it. November 28, 2020. We woke up in a rush to be at a wedding for Travis’s daughter. Instead we faced a living nightmare. I tried to wake Grady up. He couldn’t cry and he couldn’t focus. We rushed him to the ER, only to find out our baby had suffered a severe globalized anoxic brain injury sometime in the night. We were life flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital were we spent 5 days with Grady. The first 3 days were spent trying to save his life and figure out what had caused the brain injury. Believe me, the doctors along with us, pursued every possible avenue. There were massive amounts of hospital procedure testing done to determine the cause. At the end of the third day we knew Grady had Streptococcus Pneumonia Meningoencephalitis. A rare form of bacterial meningitis. Grady’s little body couldn’t regulate all of the important functions on its own due to the extent of the brain injury. He could not breath on his own, his sodium level was to high, and his internal body temperature was to low. Travis and I knew from the results of a MRI that there was absolutely no recovery. However, we opted for a second test to be preformed in order to prove him brain dead. It is such an ugly word but, it is truth. The “brain death” testing is a two part series that must be performed a minimum of 12 hours apart. They could not preform the series of testing until Grady’s sodium level was regulated or in a “safer range”. We spent an entire day watching them draw blood every 2 hours and adjusting medications through his IV to lower the sodium. We also chose this testing for Grady to become a Pediatric Organ Donor. We knew our son was never coming home. We felt very strongly about helping other parents save their children if at all possible. We don’t ever want another parent to face what we now are in the loss of our son. We were determined that Donor Connect would be able to harvest all the vital organs they could. We started this foundation to help other donor families cover medical expenses. Organ Donation groups COVER ALL COSTS once organ donation is determined. Anything before that is the family’s responsibility. December 2, 2020 Grady Michelangelo Shakespear’s time of death was called. Donor Connect then met with us to review social history and medical files to make sure Organ Harvesting could take place. December 3, 2020 our son became a “hero”. A word I do not like. For us it felt like Grady was completing what he was sent here to do, “serve others”. Grady was able to donate 3 vital organs to 3 different recipients. His heart to a baby girl, his right and left kidney to two different adult males. Grady’s legacy will live on through his foundation. He was sent to serve others and as his parents we will continue to honor our son in doing just that. Thank you for your continued love and support as we navigate our grief. There is solace in serving others through this foundation.

The Shakespears