In an unbelievable set of tragic circumstances, Jason and Clarissa Osborn have lost five children, four of whom within three days of each other.
Faith It reported that, three years after their marriage, Clarissa and Jason decided to start their family. In 2013, the happy couple welcomed their son Carter, but then Clarissa developed brain tumors that required radiation treatment, thus preventing her from conceiving naturally.
Undeterred, the couple still wanted to grow their family and provide Carter with a brother or sister, so with the help of IUI (intrauterine insemination) Clarissa was able to become pregnant with their second child, a daughter named Shanna. However, when Clarissa had her 20-week ultrasound, she learned that their little baby girl had a rare heart defect caused by a chromosomal condition called 22Q11.
Doctors advised the couple that their little girl required open heart surgery just days after her birth. Fortunately, everything went well and, just one month after her birth, baby Shanna came home to meet her big brother Carter.
“Carter got to love on her and was thrilled to have a little sister. Things were going well,” according to Clarissa. “Then one Sunday morning, we awoke to a cry we had never heard before.”
They rushed to check on their daughter, who stopped breathing moments later. Jason performed CPR on Shanna until paramedics arrived.
“They tried and tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late.”
Shanna died from a congenital heart defect just three months after she was born. Clarissa and Jason were heartbroken: losing Shanna left a permanent hole in their family.
But then, in an amazing turn of circumstances, six months later the couple was overjoyed to discover that Clarissa was expecting quadruplets, and all four babies were girls.
Living in such a caring community, the Osborn’s were showered with four of everything: four bassinets, four car seats, four high chairs, four strollers, and a huge supply of diapers and formula.
Then on June 11, 2017, just 11-months after losing their daughter Shanna, Clarissa went into labor at 23 weeks. Following an emergency c-section, quadruplets Kylie, Ellie, Savannah, and Lexi were all born weighing less than one pound. Heartbreakingly, all four baby girls died within three days of each other.
“We were able to say goodbye to them all, and we were grateful for that. But after already losing one daughter, to lose another four was heart-wrenching. I kept thinking, ‘Why all four? Couldn’t just one have made it?’ It was extremely difficult to realize that none of them were coming home.”
The couple realized how emotionally difficult it would be for them to return home to a house full of baby items for four little girls, so the family arranged for someone to collect all the items and donate them. An organization called Intermountain Healing Hearts helped gift the items to families who have babies born with heart defects like Shanna.
“It was important to us to pay it forward somehow.”
The brave couple has now launched an initiative to honor the five daughters they lost over the 11-month period.
They created the Shanna K. Osborn Foundation, which will award $500 educational scholarships to college students every year who have survived heart defects.
“We wanted our daughters to go to college, so this is a way for us to follow some other young people through their journey and support them, even though we don’t have our little girls. It’s a way to keep them in our lives and keep their memories alive, and bring smiles instead of pain.”
The couple admits that it’s only the overwhelming support of family friends and even strangers that has helped get them through these difficult times. And Jason says it’s made them realize they still have a lot of living left to do.
“There are tough nights when we wish we still had our five little girls, so it’s therapeutic to talk about them and remember the brief time they were with us and felt our love. Remembering that has been very healing.”
[Featured Image by Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock]