Being a new mom is stressful — but being a new mom to a child who has a life-threatening condition is even more difficult.
At about 28 weeks along, Nikki Ihus was told that her son had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Few hospitals would be able to help, and only Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, was up for the challenge.
“My son has a congenital diaphragmatic hernia,” Ilhus told WFLA-TV. “Which is a hole in the diaphragm that allowed the organs in his stomach to move up into his chest.”
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the survival rate for infants with CDH is 70 percent.
Still, having a child in the NICU being operated on and buckling up for a long recovery is sure to put a damper on the joy that a new addition should bring — not to mention pose a new multitude of financial stressors.
Ihus’ sister, Lauren Oliphant, started a GoFundMe for Nikki, her husband Joseph and baby John Henry. As of Tuesday afternoon, over $9,000 has been raised to help the family with bills.
“Joseph and Nikki could greatly use your financial support to help pay their bills and additional expenses and enable Nikki to focus on taking care of their son.”
But it was a woman named Belinda who really made an impact on Ihus. Ihus didn’t know anyone nearby, because she is from Kansas City, and was with John Jenry at the hospital, but she needed to run some errands to get some more supplies.
So, she did what many people do: She called an Uber. But her driver wasn’t any driver; Belinda had a heart of gold.
“I believe everyone gets in my car for a reason and not just a ride,” Belinda said.
And once Ihus popped into the relative safety of the vehicle, she told Belinda what was going on in her life.
“She told me her story. She was in tears a couple of times and I really felt for her,” Belinda said.
She dropped Ihus off at Rhea Lana’s, a store that sold baby clothes — but then she decided to do more.
“She touched my heart,” Belinda told WFTS-TV. “So I parked the car and turned Uber off. I went in and I found her and said, ‘This is a day that should be fun for you. And you shouldn’t be alone. Let’s shop.'”
Ihus was surprised by her driver’s kindness and even more stunned when Belinda bought an entire wardrobe for John Henry.
“She was like, ‘I’m going to help you buy you some clothes for your son.’ I asked her, ‘Are you serious?’ I can’t even imagine,” Ihus said.
“For this stranger to go completely out of her way — stop what she was doing and stop making money — to come be with me for a couple of hours while we shopped together, that was just incredible.”
The store employees were surprised, too, and asked how long Belinda had known Ihus.
She laughed, and told them, “Oh, about 15 minutes.”
“She is my hero,” Ihus said.
After the generous gift, the two women made sure to schedule a time for Belinda to meet John Henry, and she fawned over the little boy. John Henry still has a ways to go, but he’s in good hands.
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