NEW ORLEANS — A grieving family, that recently lost a child, has decided to put on a special Thanksgiving celebration of life to help other children still in the hospital.
A Metairie family is resilient and positive in the face of a lot of heartache over the last year. And this holiday, they are giving thanks by thinking of others.
When Brittany and George McGregor had their first born Brock, it was the very beginning of the pandemic lock down. Then a little more than a year later, Brock was going to be a big brother. An ultrasound and tests revealed that baby Everett had a heart defect and Down syndrome.
“It was like, OK, this is us. We were chosen for this and let's bring it on,” Brittany McGregor said.
When asked if he accepted the diagnosis right away, George McGregor replied, “Yeah, immediately, immediately. We instituted a 24-hour-rule to be upset, and then from there we're going.”
Not only was baby Everett going to be special, but he came into the world in a very special, and rare way. It was an en caul birth. He was born still inside of an unbroken amniotic sac.
“And it was almost like a baby Jesus, Simba moment, I call it," Brittany said. "They were like holding him up in the water bag. It was almost like angels in the room."
The name Everett means "wild boar." So, Dad nick named him WiBo, and he thrived, hitting speech and mobility milestones. Then, in July, just a few weeks before Everett was to have surgery to fix his heart defect, both boys got RSV. WiBo spent two months in Ochsner.
“The doctors told us, basically, you need a miracle at this point, and so that's what we're asking for. And we did get a miracle, just not the one we wanted, because the night before he passed all of his edema went down, and he was playful for about 24 hours,” George remembers.
The heart surgery never happened. At seven months, Everett Mark McGregor passed away. But the McGregors decided to make this Thanksgiving special in WiBo's honor, and in honor of all the children still in need in Ochsner Hospital for Children.
"So many people thought about us. It's impossible not to, I mean when people you haven't heard from 10,15, 20 years are reaching out checking on you, it's impossible not to think of other people,” George said.
And they are indebted to the Child Life Services Department at Ochsner who made those difficult months special and memorable for the entire family.
“But really, what they've done is just, it's amazing. These people are just saints,” George said.
“We could have lost him and sit here and be sad, or we could have lost him, be sad and do this,” Brittany explained.
So, Sunday, Nov. 27, they'll have the first annual WiBo-Giving to benefit Ochsner Child Life Services. It's a full afternoon and evening of major auction items, food, live music, Saints game watching, and giving blood donations, since Everett used so much during his final weeks.
Doors open at Southport Hall with the blood drive at noon, game watching at 3:25, and music with The Wise Guys at 6:30. And if you can't go, you can send a toy to a young patient at Ochsner by clicking here.