Just weeks away from the birth of their son, Ryan, Mike and Siobhan Schneider were forced to face sobering news: Ryan had a genetic disorder affecting his kidneys and would not survive long after birth. The news was devastating and sent the couple on a quest to learn all they could about Ryan’s condition. Internet searches and discussions with physicians simply raised more questions. Soon the couple was in a meeting with a group of specialty physicians my list of questions and wanted to gather all the information I could,” Siobhan explains. She says the meeting was difficult for all involved, but eventually led to a moment of clarity.
“It was the first time I felt like I could stop and really take a deep breath,” Siobhan explains. “It made me fall in love with Mike all over again.”
Ryan was born on June 1, 2009. He lived just 45 minutes.
“In that time we were able to sing him lullabies, introduce him to his grandparents and some of his aunts and uncles, tell him about family members that he wouldn’t have the good fortune to meet, and allow his big sister to hold him,” Siobhan says. “It was a special time.”
And as his short life came to an end, Ryan was able to give the gift of life by donating his atrial valve and pericardial valve.
“In his short 45 minutes, Ryan had this incredible opportunity to make such a difference for other babies by giving the gift of life,” Siobhan says. “He made more of an impact on the world around him than most folks who live a normal lifespan.”
“We are so incredibly proud of our son.”
Siobhan received word shortly after the gift that the atrial valve had been successfully transplanted in a youngster in California.
“It made our day,” she says of the news. “It gave us a real sense of peace that another family now has hope because of Ryan’s gift.”
The Schneiders’ experience with donation encouraged them to be active in sharing the word on the importance of donor awareness.
“I thought Ryan’s gift would be a one-time thing,” Siobhan says. “But during the experience, I developed a connection with Iowa Donor Network. I do what I can to raise awareness. It allows me to take time out of my busy schedule and focus solely on our son and his story.”