ROMULUS, Mich. – This Mother’s Day will be extra special for one Romulus family.
They’ve already received the greatest gift they could ever ask for -- a second chance at life for their precious baby boy.
Benjamin McClendon had a nickname among staff at Children’s Hospital Michigan because he quickly outgrew his infant bed. “Big Ben” was diagnosed with complex heart problems before he was born. Doctors knew he would need a heart transplant.
“Benjamin’s condition was very critical,” said Dr. John Dentel. “We weren’t sure in the beginning if he would survive the long wait.”
He spent three months on the transplant list. It was a difficult time for his mom, dad and older sister.
“It was very tough not knowing what would happen if I left. I didn’t want to go home,” said LaWanda McClendon. “We always say everyday was a victory. Everyday was a victory, no matter what.”
When the call finally came, their first thought was of the donor’s family.
“We prayed. We prayed for the family. We prayed for comfort,” McClendon said. “We prayed for healing. We prayed that maybe, one day, we can connect together.”
Big Ben is now thriving. His family said he’s a bundle of energy and happiness.
As his family prepared to celebrate Mother’s Day, they have a special tribute planned.
“We’re actually going to plant some flowers for the family that decided to donate their baby’s heart so that Benjamin can live,” McClendon said. “Benjamin is going to do some big and great things. We’re just grateful and blessed and this is a Mother’s Day we’ll never forget.”
The McClendons hope their story will encourage others families to talk about organ donation. It’s important to make your wishes known before a tragedy happens.
Click here to learn more about organ donation and join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.