Doctors warned Ellonn Smartt that her son, who was born at 23 weeks gestation and weighed just 13-ounces, would likely die within 72 hours. But Jaden Wesley Morrow proved them wrong.
“Jaden was with us for 25 days,” Smartt told TODAY Parents. “He pushed so hard until the very end.”
Though Jaden was alert and stable on July 29, his health took a turn for the worse last week. “He got an infection that his immune system just couldn’t handle,” Smartt said.
The little boy passed away on Monday at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, surrounded by his family. At the time of of Jaden’s death, he weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces.
“He was holding our fingers and sucking on his tongue,” Smartt said. “When it was time to take him off the ventilator, I sang to him and told him how proud I was of him and that I was so glad I got to see his face."
Smartt and her boyfriend, Jordon Morrow, are also parents of 3-year-old Elijah. “We explained to Elijah that his grandma is going to take care of Jaden,” Smartt said. “Elijah said he’s going to take a rocket ship to go see his brother.”
On Monday, they tied Jaden's hospital bracelets to balloons and released them. Elijah insisted on keeping one.
Dr. Krista Haines, a neonatologist at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, previously told TODAY Parents that babies born at 23 weeks are at risk for developing life-threatening infections.
Smartt praised Jaden’s courage in a Facebook post on Monday. “Jaden is stronger than anyone I know,” she wrote. “He came here to teach us what love really means. Where is there are no more tubes, no alarms beeping or machines. He fought hard for all of us . . . 25 days. 25 days of love and happiness.”