We have lived in Nebraska since 2007. Originally from Minnesota, we feel like we have two homes—one in Minnesota where all of our family lives and where we grew up, and the other in Nebraska where our surrogate family lives and we have set up our roots. We were an ordinary family of four leading up to July 28, 2018, the day that changed our lives forever.
We were visiting the family cabin near St. James, MN, when Dominik suffered a fully unexpected and massive cardiac arrest while doing cannonballs off the dock with Ryan. Help was called, CPR was started, and Dom was rushed to the nearest hospital. After 40 minutes of CPR, Dom somehow regained a pulse and was stable enough to be airlifted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. For the first four days in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), we clung to any indication and aspect of hope that Dom would recover. We waited impossibly and impatiently for tests to be conducted that would tell us the extent of the damage to his lungs, heart, and brain. We worked so hard alongside various specialists to try and figure out what might have happened to Dom and why. On August 2nd (also Ryan’s birthday), we learned that his lung and heart function had made a complete recovery; however, the neurological damage to his brain was too severe from lack of oxygen during CPR. Our little boy would never recover…
Following this devastating update, we made the most difficult decision of our lives to move Dominik into comfort care. We were transferred out of the PICU and into a general pediatric inpatient unit. Although the Compass team providing hospice care was great, the resources available for children needing hospice care was extremely limited. We briefly considered transferring Dom to our home in Papillion, NE, but that would have been hard on all of us, especially Dom. Because we had the wonderful support of our family in Minnesota, we decided to stay at Mayo. On August 12th, after 10 days of hospice, our sweet, amazing little boy passed away.
Although we have been through a lot, we refuse to succumb to the darkness and sink into the shadows. We will not. We cannot. That is not what Dominik would have wanted. So, we believe that we have to do something. Sometimes it is doing something Dom loved, like getting ice cream or reading Boon one of his favorite books. Sometimes it is showing up when other people need you. Other times it is just peeling ourselves out of bed in the morning. On our home page, we mentioned that we have committed to honor Dom by helping children and families in our community. That first something is to build a playground in memory of Dom at Chalco Hills Recreation Area in Omaha, an area that we spent every Sunday afternoon with Dom.
This location means a lot to our family and will mean a lot to Boon as she gets older (she was only five-months-old when Dominik passed). We envision Dom’s Park to be a place where Boon can go to play with other children in the community and feel close to her brother—a brother that she really never knew, but who loved her so much. After we complete the park project, we plan to focus on helping families who are in a similar situation to ours, promoting research into sudden cardiac death, and benefiting other educational and community projects. Although some of our future plans are unknown, we are committed to building a lasting legacy for Dom. We need your support in this effort! Our vocabularies are not large or eloquent enough to sufficiently describe how much your support means to our family and community.