FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WFRV) – A Fond du Lac couple, who has faced unimaginable heartbreak, is now doing everything they can to help other families facing similar losses.

Since 2017, Fond du Lac residents and husband and wife, Tabitha and Salvatore Lazaro have had a difficult time bearing a child due to a rare chromosomal disorder known as Trisomy 6.

According to rarediseases.org, Trisonomy 6 is defined as:

An extremely rare chromosomal disorder in which a portion of the 6th chromosome (6q) is present three times (trisomy) rather than twice in cells of the body.”

This disorder can affect infants in a variety of ways depending on the severity of the case. Common side effects include:

  • Slow physical development
  • Mental retardation
  • Malformations of the skull and facial region
  • Unusually short, webbed neck
  • Abnormal bending or extension of certain joints

In extreme cases, this condition can result in the death of the infant. Unfortunately, this has been the case for the Lazaros. The couple has endured not one, but two of their children being stillborn due to this disease.

In 2017, when Tabitha was just over eight months pregnant, she gave birth to a stillborn baby girl named Brooklyn. The Lazaros recalled that during that time, what they needed most was time to grieve and say goodbye.

“We had to stay present, and take in everything during that special, but brief time, because it was our last chance with her,” said Lazaro.

However, even in those brief final moments with their daughter, in the back of their mind, the Lozanos were thinking of the ticking clock and were worried about the baby’s quality.

Shortly after the loss of baby Brooklyn, the Lazaros began the grieving and healing process. It was during that time that the couple was introduced to CuddleCots.

CuddleCots are defined as cooling pads placed in bassinets and connected to a device that filters cold water through the mats at a consistent temperature.

These cooling pads essentially help preserve the quality of the stillborn infant, allowing the baby to remain with the family for up to five days instead of just minutes or hours.

Kimberly Vanevenhoven, RN Clinical Manager – Medical Surgical, ICU, Family Birth Care at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, explained further stating that the CuddleCot system can help families create an important bond with their baby and help process their loss.

“With Brooklyn, we did not have the CuddleCot, and we were essentially on a time clock with the integrity of her body and the natural process,” Lazaro explained. “We had to share precious moments with each other and other family members who wanted to meet her. The CuddleCot would have given us more time to process our loss.”

Sadly, the Lazaros did get the chance to use this product when saying goodbye to their second child. The Lazaros had a second child, a baby boy named Ethan, who was also stillborn.

“With Ethan, it was unexpected and we were still in shock,” Salvatore said. “During his birth, the CuddleCot was available and allowed us time to process what had just happened, and helped us transition into the grieving process.”

As the Lazaros continue to grieve for their children, that’s not stopping them from wanting to help other families facing similar situations.

In honor of Brooklyn and Ethan, the Lazaro’s have donated four CuddleCots to area hospitals so that other families may have time to say goodbye to their stillborn children.

“Sal and Tabitha have endured something most of us cannot begin to imagine,” said Vanevenhoven. “We are forever grateful for their strength to share their story and generosity as other families may now have the gift of time.”