Couple turns tragic loss into help for other families

April 24, 2013 3:48:41 PM PDT
A West Philadelphia couple has turned the tragic loss of their first child into hope for others.

And they are teaching families everywhere how to 'pay it forward' after a loved one's death.

"Watermelon is the first time she tried food," said Tom Mallery.

Tom was describing his daughter's bravery beads. The colorful beads, decorated with pictures of fruit and other objects, used to hang in the neo-natal intensive care unit where his first-born spent the first days of her life.

"And the house is when she came home," said Tom.

Ana Cru received a bravery bead for every milestone she achieved, for each small but significant event in her short life.

She was never diagnosed with one illness, but her medical problems were many.

Her baby book is only partially full of happier memories, including Ana's ultrasound, photos with Mom and Dad.

"And then, unfortunately, not all of it is complete, because it was a short trip," said Ana's mother, Kate.

Ana lived only eleven months, and most of that time she was receiving medical treatment.

"I think I only changed her on her changing table twice because I had so many medical supplies that she needed," said Kate.

After her death in February, the Mallerys started a project to donate their supplies and to collect supplies from others for those who need them.

"Even though they're still in the package, the company will not take them back," said Kate.

The Mallerys hope to meet the two dozen families who have given them supplies, items that are already packaged and ready to deliver.

They will donate them first to their community in the U.S., and then hopefully overseas.

Kate says there's a vast amount of good medical supplies that are discarded.

"It's amazing how much can actually be used and salvaged and given to patients who really do need it," said Kate.

"The fact that Ana has passed away and her growth has stopped doesn't mean that the growth of healing of other kids and other people needs to stop," said Tom.