The holiday season is a bittersweet time of year for Amanda and Christopher Palmer and their daughter, Addison. They're missing Addison's older brother, Landon.
Landon Palmer was born Oct. 14, 2015. Amanda says by all accounts it was a normal pregnancy, labor, and early days at home. Then, on an October evening, the family's lives changed in an instant.
"I had just fed him and was sitting on the bed just chatting, Chris had just come home and when I went to hand him to Christopher, Landon was limp. So at some point between here and there, he had gone into cardiac arrest," Amanda Palmer recalls.
Landon Palmer passed away on Oct. 22, 2015. CPR was performed until EMS could arrive. They got him back up and running only to code again hours later. After numerous attempts, Landon wasn't able to keep himself going on his own. He was placed on ECMO as a life-saving measure. But because of the lack of oxygen from coding many times, Landon's brain was too damaged and had lost the ability to heal itself and function properly.
Shock, confusion, trauma. There isn't language to even begin to describe how they felt.
"What do you do when your child is 8 days old?" Amanda says.
"It is heartbreaking knowing that I won't be able to see him grow. Do all of that fun stuff with a boy," Chris Palmer says.
"We were not prepared, I mean, what do you do? There's no words to describe what we've gone through. But we had to find a purpose," Amanda said.
That purpose: not letting Landon's tragedy — their tragedy — be for nothing. Organ donors themselves, they decided to donate Landon's organs, so other parents wouldn't have to go through what they did.
Landon's liver was recovered as part of a research project to help children with liver disease. Healthy cells from Landon's liver were transplanted into two other children's diseased livers in order to encourage their own livers to develop new, healthy cells. Additional cells from Landon were used for further research.
Now, the Landon Palmer will be honored in the Rose Parade this holiday. Landon's likeness is featured on a florograph, a picture made entirely of flowers and seed. The Palmers got to help place the final pieces on the art. In the meantime, the family faced the multiplied anxieties of a new arrival, and then some.
Each October, they celebrate Landon's life and gift, with birthday parties and balloon releases.
"I mean if there is something that is going to break you it's this. But we've been pretty determined to let it happen," Amanda Palmer says.
She adds while there is no real moving on after such a loss, she and Chris do what all parents do.